November 11, 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the great Russian classic writers – Fyodor Dostoevsky. The St. Petersburg Opera joins the festive events and presents an archived recording of the White Nights performance posted on the Vkontakte social network.
The White Nights chamber opera was created in 1968, at a time when chamber operas dedicated to the emotional drama of the “little man” were becoming relevant. The composer Yuri Butsko created the text of the libretto for White Nights himself, bringing it as close as possible to the literary source.
Staged by People’s Artist of Russia Yuri Alexandrov.
Music and libretto by Yuri Butsko.
Conductor: Evgenii Khokhlov.
Director: Darya Modzalevskaya.
Musical Preparation: Bulat Kazansky.
Narrator: Vsevolod Kalmykov.
Dreamer: Laureate of International Competitions Evgenii Nagovitsyn.
Nastenka: Ekaterina Antipova.
One of the writer's brightest and most poetic works – the story White Nights was first published in the journal “Otechestvennye zapiski” (1848) with a dedication to the poet A. Pleshcheev, a friend of Dostoevsky's youth. Perhaps Pleshcheev became the prototype of the Dreamer. The type of romantic St. Petersburg dreamer is present in many works of Dostoevsky, who wrote, referring to his generation: “We are all more or less dreamers ...” Unlike the characters in European romantic literature, Dostoevsky's suffer deeply from their “doom to dream,” from their isolation from reality.
Subtle psychologism and poetic atmosphere of White Nights inspired many artists. The work was filmed by Luchino Visconti, Ivan Pyryev, Merat Jaliashvili, James Gray and many other directors. The opera by Yuri Butsko inspired Yuri Alexandrov to stage the production, the main character of which is Dostoevsky at different periods of his life: a young dreamer and a researcher of human souls who survived a lot.
In the ghostly light of St. Petersburg's white nights, two lonely young men meet – pure and sincere, absolutely kindred souls. Nastenka is the real embodiment of the character's dreams. His love saves her from despair: the beloved has abandoned her. It would seem that they are intended for each other. But then the other one appears, and Nastenka leaves with him. And the Dreamer can only keep a grateful memory of the moment of happiness that she gave him. In the poetic score, the subtle nuances of the characters' emotional experiences are skillfully “inscribed” into the fantastic sensation of typical St. Petersburg reality.
“I never illustrate operatic works. The very figure of Fyodor Dostoyevsky is interesting – his constant split personality, about which he himself wrote a lot. There is even his conversation with himself in the production just like Ivan Karamazov with the devil. In this action, we introduced the author's flesh into the artistic fabric. And he must figure out how much he understands his story today, in his current state, how close it is to him. Somewhere he does not like her, somewhere he empathizes, somewhere he is actively involved in action. This is a very complex, intricate story I invented. Butsko's music is shrill, this music is amazing. This music touched me. I love this intonation, close to anguish. Because confession is an important feature of a Russian artist. This is a confessional work,” said Yuri Alexandrov.