I have a long-term acquaintance in Novosibirsk. Many of our point of views are different, sometimes opposite, despite our friendship. Since I’m all for a free debate, I agreed in publishing here this friend’s opinion on what is happening in NOVAT, or Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. It has a new management, lead by Vladimir Kekhman, a former business man with a passion for art. The new direction renovated the building, made changes in repertoire, brought great artists as guests, encouraged social groups like young people, renters, students and so on to fill the theatre with extra low prices.
The text does not (NOT!) feature my own ideas, I just translated the best I could.
What happens in the “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre” offends me! Our beautiful legacy must be cherished and carefully kept. Historical legacy must ALWAYS be kept, this should be a guiding principle in any Culture policy.
I really wish old theaters would go back to to candle lights, and to grass covered floors… to female roles being played by young men in wigs! Comfort for the audience is a small price to pay, when you have design and performances preserved forever as they were in the beginning!
I wish audiences to chat and eat while they watch the show, and freely enter and leave the room. I want them to use again porcellain chamber-pots, instead of modern toilets, to preserve the original mood!
It is true “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre” is not that old, but you must agree that the former toilets were hardly more comfortable than chamber-pots, and should not be replaced by incongruous, hardly fitting novelties.
If you care about preservation, magic may not flow from stage so easily, and great performers may not be as appreciated as they are in other theaters and countries… but this is a trifle, compared with the magnificent feat of preserving architecture in all its original glory! People would be proud of a whole evening sacrifice of their comfort for the sake of High Art!
Artists come and go… great performances may be lost or not appreciated, or even impossible to enjoy because of discomfort, aching backs, bad acoustics, seats without stage perspective – none of this matters, compared to preserving “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre” in its original amazing beauty and architectural uniqueness and glory.
The company members whose time and effort are dedicated to us must understand that their living Art is far less important than the Engineering Art made ethernal in cement, and not be despondent because I refuse to see them in more comfortable surroundings!
And the prices!!! I was proud that we never had to pay as much as in other cities to see the “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre” artists – and refuse to be treated with less respect now!
Maybe artists of other houses in other cities are better, and deserve what is paid to see them. I doubt it – our company is VERY good! But our company did not get suddenly better than it was – so why should I pay more to see a level of artistry that was available for a lesser price?
I heard that our artists are sad and disappointed, because we don’t want to see them in the new circumstances. As they are citizens of Novosibirsk too, they should be happy to perform to an empty house – empty of proud theatre goers that do not give in to senseless changes!
And guests artists, they may be great, even the greatest, but they must be aware that, if they accept to perform in the current bad taste decoration of “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre”, they cannot expect US to accept their Art as a good enough compensation.
More! they surely are not surprised with our lack of interest in their Art, when they know we don’t accept Vladimir Kekhman, the criminal that hired them!!! Lax, rotten capitalist West may not see his personal bankrupcy as a crime, but we know better, nobody fools us about capitalism logic and and international law!!
May this be a lesson to tyrannical authorities! If changes were wanted in “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre”, all citizens had to be called in to give their opinions – and in a democratic way, colours, materials, interior design, lightning, furniture – all decisions about comfort, upholstery, acoustics, toilets, etc, and also about repertoire, casting, costumes, settings and choreography, had to be made with agreement of all citizens, and in a way that EVERY single one of them could agree!
Instead of wasting money in “modernizing” the Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre infrastructure, we should be staging OUR own performances, even if it means having just a handful of them.
The simple notion of renting the staging of another theatre is demeaning, and just the possibility that the sweat of “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre”‘s troupe may have contact with sweat lingering in Mikhailovsky’s rented costumes is simply disgusting!!
Don’t tell ME that renting a staging is less expensive, I am not naive! Provided the production is completely OURS, a rare premiere is far better than having a whole selection of performances – since the quantiy is OBVIOUSLY meant to enrich Mikhailovsky and Kekhman at our expenses, I can find no other logical reason! What is the point of so many productions, anyway? I don’t need more than one selfie in the lobby every season, I wouldn’t want to bore my followers in Instagram!
Finally: do you really expect me to remember one more ill-sounding bunch of letters every time I want to mention our beloved “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre“? I refuse to use NOVAT instead – what a lack of respect for its grand, good sounding name.
Let other theatres use abbreviations… it’s their problem, they will have to face the inevitable, sad consequences of this kind of misguided modernization.
As with the unbelievable new site – provided there should be one at all! The traditional site of “State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre” was replaced by a new one following standards used by several other theatres in Russia – its former originality traded for what amounts to just more information and ease of use in a so called “modern” look.
Images speak for themselves: the disgusting outcome of restoration in “NOVAT”