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MOSCOW, November 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s first ever staging of the British composer and conductor Benjamin Britten’s parable opera ‘The Prodigal Son’ will be presented in Pokrovsky Chamber Opera Theater in Moscow. The premiere scheduled for November 22 will be conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky, the theater’s musical director and an acclaimed connoisseur of English 20th century music who knew Britten personally.
“It is hard to believe that The Prodigal Son has never been staged in Russia, though the opera’s history is closely connected with Russia - it was Britten’s dedication to Shostakovich (Russian composer) whom he respected and appreciated,” Rozhdestvensky told reporters Thursday. The composer was prompted to create the score after seeing Rembrandt’s ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’ in the State Hermitage Museum in Leningrad in 1966.
“This is an amazing score - part of the triptych of church parables, the other two being ‘The Burning Fiery Furnace’ and ‘Curlew River’. It is ‘The Prodigal Son’ created in 1968 where Britten found the perfect musical language blending simplicity and drama,” Rozhdestvensky said.
He added to it that “the quality of performance surpasses the boldest hopes”.
“I have been conducting over 60 years but have never seen such excellence of singers and musicians,” Rozhdestvensky said. “They sing in English, the original language, but you do not need to know English to understand the eloquent musical language of the parable opera even though the orchestra is not large - just seven musicians.”
The second performance on November 23 will be conducted by Rozhdestvensky’s student Ayrat Kashaev and staged by the choreographer Mikhail Kislyarov.
The premiere is part of the official program of ‘Seasons of Benjamin Britten in Russia’ under the aegis of the British Council and Britten-Pears Foundation.