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Not suitable for younger children. Under 5's not admitted.
Approximately 3 hours 30 minutes, including two intervals. Times given are for guidance purposes only and can change.
Welsh National Opera
Welsh National Opera
Tchaikovsky's Mazepa - Your Comments
Sat 17 June 2006
6.30pm Sung in Russian with English surtitles Pre-Performance Talk: 5.30pm
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2 people have left comments on Welsh National Opera. If you've seen the show at The Mayflower, why not add your own?
The final production this season for the WNO is the 2nd production from the 'Russian Series' formed a few years ago. Judging from the first production in the series this one had high expectations and surpassed all of them. In control of the orchestra is Alexander Polianichko who ensures the opera doesn't drag in any places. The WNO orchestra, once again, give one of their best performances to date. This opera is so dramatic that it needs 'life' and they really deliver 'bite'; the audience were almost on the edge of their seats. The sheer contrast between the fortissimos and pianissimos was excellent.
Ok, Christian Fenouillat designs the sets. He always goes for a modern interpretation and sometimes it can be difficult to follow his designs. With this production, surprisingly, the sets are logical and also don't look like pieces of cardboard. There were admittedly longer breaks because of scene changes, but it really was worth waiting for. The first set, a form of a restaurant, was very impressive... not only because of the size. The second scene is in a far more intimate office and again is very focussed upon the action... with a transition later to the actual executions which is done really effectively by the ensemble 'watching' the action on TV while the audience see Kochubei being led off. The final scene was the best... the restaurant that was in the first scene had completely been destroyed and the whole stage was filled with a complete wreck. It really reminded the audience of that fact that this opera really captures the associations with war.
A largely international cast for this production starred Robert Hayward as Mazepa and Tatiana Monograrova as Mariya. Robert Hayward really gave a solid performance and showed an impeccable understanding of the role. The audience could actually see Mazepa's volatile character and especially how he feels torn between his love for Mariya and revenge again Kochubei. Throughout the performance he retains his strong voice. One of the most effective scenes is the final time he meets Andrei (Hugh Smith) and when he comes up really close to him before firing the gun deep into his chest. The facial expression on Hayward's face showed nothing but complete anger and hatred. Likewise he also showed a far more sensitive side to the character too at the ending when Mariya has gone mad and he truly wants to take her with him, but is heartbroken when she fails to recognise him. Opposite Hayward, Monograrova is splendid as Mariya. He character goes through a much larger transition, from being a rather sheltered in her family to being completely on her own and insane. Mariya has obviously done this role before. Her arias were sung with compassion and she really devoted herself to her whole performance. Her voice is compelling and engages to audience. In the final scene her acting was incredibly good as she portrayed the mentally unstable Mariya alone with, what she assumes, is a child. They both deserved all the applause they got last night, from a truly appreciative audience.
Gidon Saks plays Kochubei with amazing clarity. In the first scene he conveys his rage and anger very well. In Act 2, when he has been captured, his performance was perfect. He really looked like he'd been tortured and toned down his voice accordingly. The aria he delivers in this act was one of the best sung in the whole evening. While he was stood against the wall ready to be executed he showed Kochubei's strong determination to remain dignified throughout everything. As his wife Mariyanna Tarasova gives a very strong and emotional performance. Her appearance in Act 2 was very compassionate and really showed how her character had been destroyed by all the events she'd experienced. Mariyanni recently gave an equally amazing performance as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana for the WNO. She really made a powerful impression upon the audience who appeared to be most impressed with her performance... all of the gratitude she very rightly deserved.
Hugh Smith as Andrei is as equally strong as the rest of the cast. The first act he proves the clarity and tone of his voice is very impressive and it is clear why he has performed in some major role as The Metropolitan Opera. He is strongest in Act 3 simply because it's when he appears the most. He shows clearly how terrible he feels when finally he is reunited with Mariya (his childhood love) whom neither recognises his character or the fact that he's close to death. While Mariya sings him the lullaby he shows just how tormented his character actually feels and he dies, in a very moving scene. Hopefully he will return and do more productions with the WNO.
The ensemble is very large for this production and all of them perform very well as a team. This really was a perfect production with no person or aspect letting it down. This clearly shows a triumph for the WNO and another success for the 'Russian Series'... well done, an absolutely dramatic night.
Kings Somborne, Stockbridge
My second Opera in 2 days. I haven't yet learnt how to listen to the music, the singing, read the surtitles and watch the performers all at once! I really enjoyed Mazepa, each performer created the character they were portraying very well. I wasn't too sure about the 'modern' dress, television and guns. We sat in the balcony and got very cramped and crushed legs! Back to the stalls for the next one.
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