"The Stars of the White Nights 2002" International Ballet and Opera Festival
31 May - 30 June 2002
Artistic Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
As the Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theatre and the Stars of the White Nights Festival, I would like to invite you to come and visit St. Petersburg, the "Venice of the North", and experience this unique festival.
Why unique? In 1994 I asked my friends to help create this Festival, and without any financial support from the city, government, or sponsors, we "got together" and made music. The first year included renowned Russian artists, such as Yuri Bashmet, Alexander Toradze, Olga Borodina, Galina Gorchakova, Gidon Kremer, Viktor Tretiakov and my conductor friends and colleagues Yuri Temirkanov and Mariss Janssons. We were joined in the following years by Carlo Maria Giullini, Placido Domingo, Deborah Voight, Violeta Urmana, Alfred Brendel, Esa Pekka Salonen and James Conlon, to name just a few. Performances are primarily held in the Mariinsky Theatre, but also in the Large and Small St. Petersburg Philharmonic Halls as well as in the Hermitage Theatre.
Combined with the splendor of the arts, you can experience the beauty of this city and its famous White Nights when night becomes day and the sun never sets. Originally planned as a two week festival, we extended the period last year to a full month and, with the support of our festival's General Sponsor, Philips Electronics, we will continue this new tradition, i.e. the White Nights Festival was taken place from June 1 - July 1, 2001.
Over the past we presented a combination of the theatre's most famous historical productions, such as Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina, Ruslan and Liudmila, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, along with the new season premieres. In the year 2001, in a tribute to Giuseppe Verdi, we presented three Verdi premieres (Un Ballo in Maschera, Macbeth, and Traviata). Other opera premieres included The Tales of Hoffman, La Boheme and Die Walkure. I am very happy to announce that my friend Placido Domingo returned to St. Petersburg. He sang the role of Siegmund in Die Walkure as well as conducted Aida. Yuri Bashmet, world famous violist and conductor of the Moscow Soloist made his debut at the Mariinsky Theatre as conductor of a concert performance of Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims. Other artists closely connected with the festival such as Alexander Toradze, Viktor Tretyakov and Vadim Repin also returned to St. Petersburg, but there were also see "new" faces at the festival, such as the 14 year old violinist Sandy Cameron. When I heard her last year in Salzburg I immediately invited him to come and perform at the festival. Those who believe that the Nutcracker ballet can only be performed during the winter, was surprised to see in June a new adaptation of the world famous ballet by the renowned artist Mihail Chemiakin and the young choreographer Kirill Simonov. Other ballet premieres included new works by John Neumeier, Mauro Begonzetti as well as a revival of Shostakovitch's 7th Symphony by Igor Belsky.
Another trademark of year 2001 festival was presenting the coming generation of young stars along with the Mariinsky's most famous artists and stars from all over the world. We took great honor in presenting the Academy of Young Singers and concerts by the Mariinsky Young Philharmonic (both institutions founded in 1999 are generously supported by our friend Alberto Vilar) as well as the annual Graduation Performances by the Vaganova Ballet Academy. And furthermore: that year's festival emphasized contemporary and "unknown music". It presented the world premiere of the opera Tsar Demyan, one opera composed by five Russian composers; commissioned by the Mariinsky Theatre and the World Theatre Olympic (Moscow). In 2000 the Bach Academy in Stuttgart commissioned four composers to create four new Passions, honoring J. S. Bach. Sofia Gubaidulina composed a St. John's Passion and at her explicit wish this work was performed by the Mariinsky Theatre and the St. Petersburg Chamber Chorus. We presented this work during the White Nights Festival along with the St. Matthew's Passion by the New York composer Tan Dun.
Other "news" of the year 2001 festival: the introduction of a new cycle - the Mariinsky Treasures. This year's "Treasures" include two operas by 18th century Italian composers who then residing in St Petersburg - Francesco Araya's Tsefal i Prokris (1755), Domenico Cimarosa's Cleopatra (1789). These works had been commissioned by the Imperial Court and have never been performed outside Russia or even St. Petersburg.
I sincerely hope that you will join us in St. Petersburg this coming summer for a spectacular festival of opera, ballet and symphonic concerts. As a promoter not only of my Festival, but of my city as well, I invite you to discover the beauty and splendor of St. Petersburg's famous museums, palaces and parks.
Do svidanya in St.Petersburg!