LONDON Dec 18 With the imminent opening of its
third home venue, St. Petersburg's Mariinsky opera and ballet
will ramp up an already prodigious output but may ease back on
hectic foreign touring, director Valery Gergiev said on Tuesday.
World audiences have come to know Gergiev and his company
well as they crisscrossed the globe after the collapse of Soviet
state funding. But with Russians now pouring the kind of money
into the arts that has just built the $700-million Mariinsky II
theatre, he wants to concentrate on domestic performances.
"It's important for us to continue to go to London, Berlin
or Chicago," Gergiev told Reuters after a presentation of plans
in London. "But now we are more comfortable at home."
Touring remains important, not for commercial gain but for
"national pride" in promoting Russian music, he said. Some 300
of 1,000 performances in 2014 would be on the road - but many of
these would be not abroad but in distant Russian regions where
Gergiev sees it his mission to bring music to the provinces.
For those unable to visit St. Petersburg, where the
2,000-seat new venue will open on May 2 to complement the
150-year-old opera house and a concert hall opened in 2006, the
company, known as the Kirov in Soviet times, is expanding its
recordings and video broadcasts to theatres worldwide, including
A 3D recording of Christmas ballet "The Nutcracker" is in
cinemas this winter and Gergiev will go a step further in what
he acknowledged is not a risk-free experiment with a live 3D
broadcast from St. Petersburg of "Swan Lake" on Feb. 14 - St.
Valentine's Day. It is being produced in partnership with the
Hollywood 3D studio of "Avatar" director James Cameron.
Turning 60 next year, Gergiev shows little sign of slowing
down; he plans to direct all three of the orchestras that will
play under the Mariinsky name once the new venue opens, will
begin new recordings of Wagner's "Ring" cycle and plans to
complete his series of discs of all Shostakovich's symphonies.
While working the company hard, he denied there have been
serious rumblings of discontent in the ballet troupe over pay
and conditions. Responding to a letter of complaint from dancers
that was widely publicised in Russian media last month, he said:
"There's nothing terrible happening in the Mariinsky - no way."
In a move to address concerns, however, he announced a plan
to build 50 or more apartments to house performers: "They will
be relatively cheap apartments, basically a gift to them from
the company," he said. "But then they have to perform."
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald, editing by Jill Serjeant)