Correspondence

Leningrading Verdi

Foreigners often think of life in Italy as operatic, which shows that reinvestment in the obvious is not always a losing propostion. If only more foreigners had followed Nietzsche in asking "If it is true that evil men have no songs, how is it that the Russians have songs?" then perhaps the world would not have become the plaything of wickedness that it is today. And there you have it. All the themes I intend to touch upon in describing my visit to the Teatro Regio in Parma are audible in my opening paragraph.

At the Regio, as part of the Verdi Festival's Celbrazioni Nazionali commemorating the centenary of the composer's death, Valery Gergiev led the Orchestra Kirov del Teatro Mariinskij di San Pietroburgo in a performance of Un Ballo in Maschera, with Ivan Momirov as Riccardo, Sergei Murzaev as Renato, and Olga Sergeeva as Amelia. Regia: Andrej Konchalovskij. The name of the person identified in the program as responsabile dei progetti speciali, I was amused to note in the interval, was Kalashnikov.

The Kirov is generally in a bit of trouble these days. They cannot really go on calling themselves the Kirov, because names like the Goebbels Playhouse or the Pol Pot Skating Rink or the Amin Luncheonette are no longer in fashion. The fact that, as our parents used to sing, "We's so upset and so worried oh / 'Cos Stalin bumped 'im off in a corridor,"...

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