… It was a performance about Russia and her vast lands and history. An opera about both Tolstoy and Prokofiev that has a contemporary Weltanschauung.
Irena Leina. Kultura
Konchalovsky's solution is brilliant: the action takes place on a convex dome like the curved surface of the Earth. This nicely reflects the circularity of the waltz music in the “peace” themes, while its ceaselessly changing landscape gives the “war” theme a dizzy, global feel. All this is splendidly cinematic: under swirling Turner skies , the battling armies and oppressed multitudes shunt endlessly to and fro while acts of casual brutality and hopeless heroism suggest war's pity, terror and confusion. Prokofiev's atmospheric music emerges in all its glory thanks to Gergiev's magic in the pit.
Michael Church. The Independent
Konchalovsky has brilliantly met the fundamental task: to stage a vivid, dynamic, visually intense production, to embody the heroic and patriotic idea of the opera without any false pathos. An entire gallery of Russian characters, living, unpretentious, natural and life-like, comes to life, contemplates, suffers and acts within the space of the opera. On the huge stage of the Mariinsky Theatre, rigged out with the new imported rotating circle, the stage director stealthily, like an army commander, has mixed up Russian and French regiments, a partisan division and the peasant militia, one after another recreating the Battle of Borodino, the Shevardino Redoubt, Moscow streets aflame and the shooting of French “arsonists”. The auditorium burst into applause when the pure starry sky was reproduced on the white synthetic back curtain of the stage, the Universe with its myriad stars, the impetuously rushing clouds of smoke, the white stone walls and golden cupolas of Moscow illumined by the flame. Also effective was the rousing “red cockerel” of the fire with its spreading wings.
Larisa Kazanskaya. Russian Music Gazette
This is a serious effort, influenced no doubt by the perceived tastes on the international audience that awaits it. And Konchalovsky has shunned any imposed outside “interpretation”. George Tsypin's sets emphasize the opera's cosmic nature by placing the action on a convex surface, apparently the top of a huge, mostly unseen globe. Tatyana Noginova's period costumes – especially the soldier's uniforms – are spectacular in their detail. The singing was splendid by any standard and little short of astonishing when one bears in mind that all 57 roles (after the cuts) are cast solely from the company.
George Loomis. Musical America
Your heart thumps when you hear the delicate, inexpressibly tender melody of the waltz and suddenly the stage rumbles and flies upwards under the feet of the dancing Natasha and Andrei, carrying off strange faces, figures frozen still, Sonya, Pierre, Akhrosimova, the entire disordered world in all its varied colours… And the director’s discovery so stuns us with its unexpected subtlety and the psychological truth comprising the very essence of Tolstoy’s deep words.
Olga Gladkova. Smena