Театр Санкт-Петербург Опера

Alexander Goikhman about the upcoming premiere of the opera Norma

On the eve of the premiere of the opera Norma at the St. Petersburg Opera, we talked with the conductor of the theatre Alexander Goikhman and learned about how Bellini's music will be of interest to the audience, what it is like to work with Yuri Alexandrov, and what attracts the conductor to this work.

— What is interesting for you, as a conductor, in the opera Norma? 

— First of all, I am interested in the recitative in this opera, how the recitative and vocals are combined in the soloist's part and vice versa. There must be a dialogue between the orchestra and the soloist. Either the orchestra supports the soloist, or then the soloist gives impetus to the orchestra in recitative. After all, the orchestra can slow down, increase the tempo, comment on the action, can continue, and start the action precisely in recitative. The material is also very interesting because the conductor needs to feel the soloist. We have four Norma performers, and all are completely different: everyone has a different pace, different decelerations, accelerations, fermats. Everything must be remembered and everyone must be felt.The opera Norma is considered the pinnacle of bel canto. It penetrates into the soul, into the very heart. Especially some scenes. For example, the scene with the attempted murder of children - it even touches men to tears. Such a female collective image, the quintessence of the feminine principle, is perhaps not found in any other opera. Although many operas are dedicated to a woman, such a palette of feelings, emotions, philosophy, wild animal insides and at the same time, - the tenderest feelings - is nowhere else but Bellini's opera. 

— Why is Bellini's music attractive to today's audience? 

— Bellini’s music is very melodic. In Norma everything is dedicated to it, the melody is the continuation of the soul. The viewer will be interested in observing the behavior of Norma. It is absolutely not logical. The character’s feelings and emotions change in each number. Now love, then hatred, then anger, then a thirst for revenge and murder, then incredible friendship, then betrayal - all in one woman. It was not for nothing that Maria Callas loved this role so much. Because everything that is in a woman is concentrated in Norma.

— How do you assess cooperation with Yuri Alexandrov? 

— We have been cooperating with Yuri Alexandrov for a long time. I have been working in the theatre for 13 years. Yuri Alexandrov is an outstanding director, a music director. It is interesting to argue with him on musical topics. It seems to me that after many years I understood his approach, or rather began to understand the approach to directing from his point of view. And this is more and more intriguing, because I am going deeper and deeper - why is it so, why the music has changed, why is it suddenly piano, why in this measure it is so, why in the next one it is different: something happened or nothing happened. And so, beat by beat, melody by melody, part by part, aria by aria, the director gradually builds a musical image, and this is all in cooperation with the conductor. If the conductor feels what Yuri Alexandrov wants, then joint work is possible. Yuri Alexandrov has very high requirements for a theatrical conductor. He must have flair, intuition at the highest level, the ability to understand the director. Now I am acting more and more meaningfully, but before I only felt, and I like it.