The project visual style defined

Andrei Ustinov: Our task has been to find an image that will serve as a screen saver for the site, the Facebook page, the playbill and printed matter. It wasn’t expected to repeat the production image and be a direct embodiment of its artistic message: it’s quite easy to correspond and dialogize with the production. We have come to the image of an ocean crossed by a red line-thread-string. It isn’t because an ocean liner is one of the locations. Much more important is that the story develops in a kind of planetary space common to all mankind, in the space of eternity whose symbol is the ocean. This powerful, disturbed element seems to be above the whole world, and human life is just a tiny grain of sand in a storm of passion against this background.

After the presentation on February 1 where the sketches of sets and costumes were shown Thaddeus Strassberger has joined the process of developing a production visual style.

«WEINBERG. RETURN»

An international conference dedicated to the life and work of Moisey Weinberg’s has been announced to be held at the Bolshoi Theatre and at the State Institute of Art Studies in Moscow in February 2017.

On 17 November, 2015 there was a meeting initiated by Andrei Ustinov at the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia where a Protocol was signed for joint organization and holding of an international conference in Moscow in February 2017 devoted to the life and work of Moisey Weinberg.

The Protocol was signed by Vladimir Urin, General Director, Bolshoi Theatre; Andrei Shishkin, Director, Ekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre; Andrei Ustinov, Editor-in-Chief, Muzykalnoye obozrenie national newspaper; Aleksander Laskowski, Head of Expert Group of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw and Dr. Natalia Sipovskaya, Director, State Institute of Art Studies.

Following the meeting work on the project has started at the Bolshoi Theatre.

A working title has been decided upon: “Composer Moisey Weinberg. The Heritage Returned. Celebrating the 100th Birth Anniversary in 2019”.

The conference organizers are: the Bolshoi Theatre, State Institute of Art Studies, Ekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw and Muzykalnoye obozrenie national newspaper.

The conference curators are: Andrei Ustinov, Aleksander Laskowski and Yekaterina Kliuchnikova, Cand. Sc. (Art).

Researches from Russia, Poland, Israel, the USA, Spain, Belorussia and other countries are expected to take part in the conference.

The event location and time: Moscow; February, 2017.

Moscow Presentation

On 16 November, 2015 a presentation of the project “Moisey Weinberg. The Passenger. Russian stage premiere” was held in Moscow within the framework of the conference Russia – Poland: a Musical Dialogue.

The project was presented by its curators, Andrei Shishkin and Andrei Ustinov, and Aleksander Laskowski (project consultant).

Andrei Shishkin presented the production directors. Video addresses of Oliver von Dohnányi and Thaddeus Strassberger were shown.

Aleksander Laskowski talked about Zofia Posmysz, the author of the novel which had been adapted into a libretto of the opera The Passenger, and about the scenic fate of the opera in Europe and the USA.

Andrei Ustinov acquainted the audience with Weinberg’s creative activities, presented major events scheduled for the pre-premiere period and a parallel program.

A fragment of Zofia Posmysz’s interview with Andrei Shishkin and Andrei Ustinov recorded at her house in Warsaw in summer 2015 was shown.

Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cultural Cooperation, and Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz, Poland Ambassador to Russia, appeared and spoke at the presentation. Among those present were Polish and Russian musicologists, Irina Gerasimova, CEO and Artistic director of the Russian State TV and Radio Music Centre, journalists, critics and representatives of Moscow musical theatres. Sergei Medvedev, Professor of the Higher School of Economics and the son of librettist Alexander Medvedev, was invited as a special guest of the presentation.

Thaddeus Strassberger’s Trip to Poland

In September 2015 Thaddeus Strassberger, Stage Director & Designer of the opera The Passenger, went to Poland at the invitation of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. He visited Warsaw, Krakow, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site and POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Krakow and met with Paweł Potoroczyn, Aleksander Laskowski and expert Dombkowska from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

Thaddeus Strassberger: ‘I’m facing the task to stage an opera which will tell about one of the most horrible crimes in the history of mankind. I think that opera as an art form is best suited to that because it is always up-to-date.

In Auschwitz I was startled by the silence and the feeling of being alone. Scents and texture of surfaces indoors were somehow different from the others.Time seemed to have stopped and there was a feeling that people had disappeared from there a minute before…’

In Krakow Strassberger met and had a talk with Zofia Posmysz.
‘After talking to her, I feel more freedom in realizing my ideas,’ Strassberger says. ‘The sketches she made aren’t finished images, they plead to us to become flesh, real and live people through acting.
The tragedy of Auschwitz is not in the enormous masses of those perished but in the numbers of individuals.

The trip to Poland has influenced my understanding of what should go on stage and has given me a sort of emotional prism to filter this information. I met with kind and open-hearted people who have given me a lot of new and important facts about persons, books and photographs. Now I must treat the information with respect and give it a possibility to live, breathe and change until I have shaped it into a physical form of production.’

Aleksander Laskowski, the Project Consultant

Aleksander Laskowski, Head of the Expert Group of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw, has been invited to provide consultations on the project.

Born in 1976, Aleksander Laskowski was Press Office Director for the 2010 Chopin Year, the 15th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw (2010) and the 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (2011). Presenter of radio programs Opera Nights and Tematy przewodnie (Themes) at PR2 (Polish Radio Program 2), he has translated a number of books, including The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross. The year 2013 saw the appearance of his book Skrywany wulkan (Hiden Volcano) published by Polish Music Publishers PWM. The book contains Aleksander Laskowski’s interviews with four world’s leading conductors about Polish composer Witold Lutosławski. His next book, Si, Amore, is a collection of talks that Aleksander Laskowski had with Aleksandra Kurzak, the most famous Polish opera singer. At the Adam Mickiewicz Institute Laskowski is in charge of the contacts with the world media and of the preparation of Radio Orpheus Hosting the Adam Mickiewicz Institute weekly programs aimed to promote Polish music in Russia.

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Visiting Auschitz

The project curators Mr. Shishkin and Mr. Ustinov visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site.

They attended the exposition “Tragedy. Courage. Liberation” opened on 27 January, 2013, on the day of 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (the ceremony was attended by State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin and Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky) and an exhibition opened in 2015 by the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camp.

There was a meeting with Deputy Director of the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau Andrzej Kacorzyk .

The Curators Visited Krakow

In Krakow Mr. Shishkin and Mr. Ustinov visited Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory and attended the exhibition Poland-Israel-Germany: The Experience of Auschitz at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

There was a working meeting with Mr. Leszek Szuster, Director of the International Youth Meeting Center in Oświęcim/Auschwitz.

An agreement to send students from Ekaterinburg to participate in the educational programs of the Center has been reached.

Meeting Zofia Posmysz

In Warsaw, Mr. Shishkin and Mr. Ustinov visited the house of Zofia Posmysz, a prisoner of Auschwitz, Polish writer and screenwriter, the author of the radio play The Passenger in Cabin 45 and of the novel which was adapted into a libretto of Weinberg’s The Passenger. A recording of the meeting and of the interview is available.

Zofia Posmysz addressed a welcome speech to the audience in Ekaterinburg.

Zofia Posmysz attended the 2015 premieres of the opera in Chicago (February 24) and Frankfurt (1 March).

The possibility of inviting Zofia Posmysz to come to Ekaterinburg for the premiere in September, 2016 has been discussed.

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Agreement on Cooperation

At the meeting in Warsaw Director of the Ekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre Andrei Shishkin and Director of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute Paweł Potoroczyn signed an agreement on cooperation in the project of staging Moisey Weinberg’s opera The Passenger.

“Considering that the Ekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre as one of the leading opera houses operating in the territory of the Russian Federation is planning to mount the first-ever production of the opera The Passenger by Mieczyslaw Weinberg,

Considering that the Adam Mickiewicz Institute makes a significant contribution to the promotion of musical heritage of Mieczyslaw Weinberg, as well as to the dissemination of information on his life and work,

The Parties have decided to declare an intention to cooperate in the implementation of the Russian stage premiere of the opera The Passenger in Ekaterinburg, as well as in a number of accompanying events, including concerts, reports, conferences and lectures, as well as in promotional activities in the broadest sense of the definition in Russia and abroad.”

Weinberg’s opera The Passenger mounted at Ekaterinburg Opera will be its first-ever staged version in Russia. The premiere is scheduled for 15 Septermber, 2016.

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The Ekaterinburg Passenger Gets International Attention

From 9-13 July, 2015 the project curators, Andrei Shishkin, Director of the Ekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre, and Andrei Ustinov, Editor-in-Chief of Muzykalnoye obozrenie national newspaper, went on a working visit to Poland, the homeland of Moisey Weinberg.

Mr. Shishkin and Mr. Ustinov visited Warsaw and Krakow.
The project curators visited the former Auschwitz concentration camp, now the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site.