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By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 23, 2006
Shrouded in mystical symbols and deep philosophical musings on the nature of carnality, faith and redemption, Wagner's Parsifal stands apart even from all his other symbol- and philosophy-laden operas. From this tale of chaste medieval knights who guard the Holy Grail, their leader who is afflicted with a wound that will not heal and the "sinless fool" who tastes the wisdom of compassion, Wagner created something as solemn as a Passion Play (and as potentially troubling to nonbelievers)
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | December 15, 2007
In his last years, Verdi drew extraordinary inspiration from Shakespeare, producing two equally compelling swan songs - Otello and Falstaff, each with its own remarkable combination of musical sophistication and theatrical sureness. This being the age of directorial license, both works are candidates for rethinking. If you go Verdi's Otello will be performed at 3 p.m. tomorrow at the John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington.
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By Anna Kisselgoff and Anna Kisselgoff,New York Times News Service | July 12, 1992
The big sleeper of the Kirov Ballet season was the revival of Leonid Lavrovsky's "Romeo and Juliet," created in 1940.Common wisdom had it that Lavrovsky's remarkable fusion of mime and dancing would look old-fashioned, that this Socialist Realist epic with decadent aristocrats pitted against "the people" could no longer be taken seriously.Surprisingly, this once-controversial treatment of Prokofiev's score (seen in New York with the Bolshoi in 1959) was a superb revelation all over again.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun music critic | December 13, 2007
When it comes to letting loose with unbridled emotion, no one does it better than Tchaikovsky. If you go The Queen of Spades will be performed at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington. $45-$195. 800-444-1324 or kennedy-center.org.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun music critic | January 29, 2007
If only travel could always be so much fun. The wacky aristocrats, social butterflies and flighty hotel servants who collide in Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims - The Journey to Reims - came buoyantly to life Saturday night as the Kirov Opera opened its fifth annual visit to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The inventive, whirlwind production of Rossini's infrequently staged work lit up not just the stage but the whole of the theater. The idea of characters coming down aisles or making some sort of contact with audience members is nothing new, but director Alain Maratrat took that once-innovative device and ran with it. In Maratrat's version, singers are all over the place: scrambling on and off a runway that extends from the stage well into the opera house; landing in the laps of unsuspecting opera-goers; nearly tumbling out of balconies.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun music critic | December 13, 2007
When it comes to letting loose with unbridled emotion, no one does it better than Tchaikovsky. If you go The Queen of Spades will be performed at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington. $45-$195. 800-444-1324 or kennedy-center.org.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | September 25, 1994
Russia may have political and economic problems, but its music -- at least in the old imperial city of St. Petersburg -- has rarely sounded so good. That's because a dynamo named Valery Gergiev, the young conductor who is artistic director of the great Kirov Opera, has been staging a one-man fight against stagnation."
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By Sonni Efron and Sonni Efron,LOS ANGELES TIMES | October 16, 1995
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- When the curtain rose earlier this month at the Kirov Ballet, the tawny glint of the stage lights on the gilded, ornate theater sent a shiver through an audience that had come hoping the legendary, 212-year-old company, now mired in scandal, could still dazzle.But before the first act of "Don Quixote" was over, the thrill had faded into fidgets.The first dancer on stage, lanky and athletic, flung her long limbs about; the lead danseur justified critics' claims that the Kirov's male contingent is uninspiring.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | May 11, 1998
NEW YORK -- There was a peculiar logic to the Kirov Opera's choice of Mikhail Glinka's "Ruslan and Ludmilla" as the fourth and final production of its three-week Russian opera festival, which concluded Saturday at the Metropolitan Opera.Glinka's "Ruslan" (1842) was not only the predecessor of the Kirov's other productions -- Tchaikovsky's "Mazeppa" (1884), Borodin's "Prince Igor" (1890), and Prokofiev's "Betrothal in a Monastery" (1946) -- but is also the source from which all Russian operatic music springs.
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By Judith Green and Judith Green,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | October 30, 1997
In the old days, a program called "Stars of the Ballet" was an instant groaner.It usually meant that a couple of aging dancers who needed money in the off season would capitalize on their name recognition by going on the road, sometimes accompanied by a group of girls from the corps de ballet who had nothing better to do for the next few months.But the "Stars of the Kirov Ballet," coming next week to the Naval Academy as part of the Vice Admiral Eliot Bryant and Miriam Bryant Distinguished Artists Series, really are stars.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | February 3, 2007
The Kirov Opera took machine guns, knives, whips and even a chain saw to Verdi's comic masterpiece Falstaff this week. The result proved fascinating and sometimes funny, occasionally pretentious and even vulgar. Revisionism is so common now in opera that it can be almost a letdown to see a work presented in traditional, literal fashion. But there's still something unsettling about Producers Gone Wild (or Amok). Poor, decon- structed Falstaff never had a chance. If you go The Kirov Opera's Falstaff will be performed at 7:30 tonight at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun music critic | January 29, 2007
If only travel could always be so much fun. The wacky aristocrats, social butterflies and flighty hotel servants who collide in Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims - The Journey to Reims - came buoyantly to life Saturday night as the Kirov Opera opened its fifth annual visit to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The inventive, whirlwind production of Rossini's infrequently staged work lit up not just the stage but the whole of the theater. The idea of characters coming down aisles or making some sort of contact with audience members is nothing new, but director Alain Maratrat took that once-innovative device and ran with it. In Maratrat's version, singers are all over the place: scrambling on and off a runway that extends from the stage well into the opera house; landing in the laps of unsuspecting opera-goers; nearly tumbling out of balconies.
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By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 28, 2006
Faith didn't come easily, if at all, to Giuseppe Verdi. He saw too many failings in humankind to believe much in divine goodness, let alone an afterlife. But when confronted with the death of poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, someone he idolized, Verdi turned to the ancient Latin Mass for the Dead to express his feelings. In his Requiem, the composer spoke for believers and nonbelievers alike about the fear of death and the nature of supplication. Understandably, coming from Italy's greatest creator of operas, Verdi's Requiem owes as much to the theater as to liturgical idioms.
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By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 23, 2006
Shrouded in mystical symbols and deep philosophical musings on the nature of carnality, faith and redemption, Wagner's Parsifal stands apart even from all his other symbol- and philosophy-laden operas. From this tale of chaste medieval knights who guard the Holy Grail, their leader who is afflicted with a wound that will not heal and the "sinless fool" who tastes the wisdom of compassion, Wagner created something as solemn as a Passion Play (and as potentially troubling to nonbelievers)
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By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 21, 2006
The Kirov Opera can be counted on to grab ears and eyes on its annual visit to Washington. The famed company from the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg is back at the Kennedy Center through the weekend, this time focusing on non-Russian repertoire -- swan songs by Wagner and Puccini and, in concert, Verdi's Requiem. On Sunday afternoon, the residency opened with a frequently stirring production of Turandot, Puccini's fable of ancient Peking. Although an occasional whiff of provincialism clouded the venture, there was enough high-voltage singing and orchestral playing to unleash the opera's combustible mix of passion, exoticism and pure, delectable kitsch.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | December 20, 2003
When the Kirov Opera from St. Petersburg's famed Mariinsky Theater visited Washington nearly two years ago, the first night was a tribute to Tchaikovsky that included scenes from the well-known Eugene Onegin and more obscure Mazeppa. Those tantalizing excerpts have been followed this week with complete, extraordinary presentations of both operas. The remaining performances provide the best excuse I can think of to take a break from the holiday rush. So maybe these particular productions aren't the last word on stagecraft - Onegin looks like it was designed from leftover Ikea displays, and Mazeppa has the kind of sets that put the old in old-fashioned (although they do suggest what the opera looked like when it was done at the Mariinsky for the first time in 1884)
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By Mary Ellen Daughtery | March 18, 1991
The straightens skate boarda decade old, Lincoln logsand drum, mementoes of her son,dusts dancers on the wall,ballerina to ballerina,Kirov in ink and gold.From the sun porch grand giraffesof mottled brass keep watchwhile in the yard paper tiger lilies ragelike reckless queens at the open gate.
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January 7, 1993
Rudolf Nureyev, one of the most charismatic ballet stars of the 20th century, and an artist who was often called the greatest male dancer since Vaslav Nijinsky, died yesterday in Paris. He was 54 and reportedly had been suffering from AIDS. A Kirov troupe dancer who had fallen out of favor with the Soviet bureaucracy, Mr. Nureyev defected to the West in 1961. He went on to become a legend, with a riveting stage presence that mesmerized audiences and attracted millions of new fans to ballet.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | March 20, 2003
Just blocks away from the mad tobacco farmer who held D.C. cops and traffic at bay for two days, and perhaps just a sunset or two away from what may well be a devastating war, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and the profound music of Gustav Mahler offered welcome refuge Tuesday night. On stage was the Kirov Orchestra of the famed Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society. Valery Gergiev, artistic director of the theater since 1988 and one of the hottest conducting forces around, was on the podium.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 26, 2002
As Yuri Temirkanov can attest, Westerners love to typecast Russian artists. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's music director invariably is thought of first as a conductor of Russian repertoire, even if his approach to, say, Gustav Mahler is every bit as potent. Likewise, the Kirov Opera at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg invariably is thought of first as a company that performs Russian works, no matter how many other things it effectively puts on stage. Not surprisingly, then, the Kirov Opera's memorable visit to the Kennedy Center had the public clamoring most for performances of a Russian item, Mussorgsky's Khovanschina, rather than Verdi's early masterwork, Macbeth.
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