On July 15, 2020, a press conference was held devoted to the presentation of the restored musical hall of the theatre - the unique Red Room of the mansion of Baron von Derviz and the opening of the 34th season of the State Chamber Musical Theatre “St. Petersburg Opera” (Galernaya st 33).
The press conference was attended by Chairman of the Committee for Culture of St. Petersburg Konstantin Eduardovich Sukhenko, artistic director of the theatre, People's Artist of Russia Yuri Alexandrov, theatre director Evgenii Sergeevich Malygin, wife of the composer Valery Gavrilin - Natalia Evgenievna Gavrilina, and conductor Vladimir Alekseevich Rylov.
In September 2020, the St. Petersburg Chamber Opera, following a long-standing tradition, plans to open the 34th season for the audience with the opera by P. Tchaikovsky “Eugene Onegin”.
At the press conference, People's Artist of Russia Yuri Alexandrov, artistic director of the theatre, presented the restored interiors of the theatre's new musical hall and spoke about his creative plans for the upcoming season.
Since 2000, thanks to the efforts of Yuri Alexandrov and the support of the city government, within the framework of targeted programs for the preservation of cultural heritage objects, a phased restoration has been going on in the von Derviz mansion.
Over the years, a truly gigantic work has been done to restore the historical appearance of the most beautiful interiors of the von Derviz mansion, which organically fit into the chamber theatre. Most of the rooms of the mansion have been restored: the White Hall, the Grotto, Moorish Room with gilded ornaments, Maple Room decored in the style of Louis XVI, foyer and artistic restrooms. The curtain with the family coat of arms of Baron von Derviz was recreated.
Today, thanks to the titanic efforts of the administration of the theatre, one of the most beautiful palaces in the city and the pearl of European Art Nouveau in its original has been restored for locals and guests of the city.
At the press conference, the new Red Room was presented for the first time, and it was made in the style of the Italian Renaissance. The restoration of this part of the ceremonial enfilade began many years ago. In the early 2000s, the first half of the Red Room was renovated. But the most difficult task was to completely restore the historical appearance of the premises, the second part of which was extremely damaged during the Great Patriotic War.
Rust on the surface of the roof, rotting wood, holes, deviations from the vertical, deep cracks, swelling and lagging of the plaster layer - this is just a part of the damage that restorers faced during the painstaking struggle with the inevitable damage by the ruthless time and the St. Petersburg climate.
A restoration project was completed and agreed upon, involving the unification and return of the entire volume of the Red Room. After the completion of the restoration of the Red Room, it was necessary to regain its original planning solution and the historical appearance of the 19th century. The unusual layout was that in the second part of the room, the ceiling is a skylight with a set of glass elements, and the line of the walls of both parts of the living room is not perfectly straight, but is offset at an angle.
Within the work, restorers discovered unique elements of stucco decoration. It turned out that earlier the architectural and artistic decoration of the walls was done under valuable woods and the specialists had a unique opportunity to return the historical design of von Derviz's room. In 2015, the light lamp, windows, wooden panels with marble inserts running along the perimeter of the building were restored, and the ceilings were repaired. Two years later, the typeset parquet was updated from many varieties of wooden veneer, the figure of which depicts fantastic dragons with intertwining tails. Committee on State Control, Use and Protection of Monuments of History and Culture insisted on the preservation of the historical parquet and the need to adjust the project which provided for its complete replacement. Today, after completion of the restoration, the Red Room has regained its original planning decision and the historical appearance of the 19th century.
Finally, in 2019, work was completed on the installation and launch of a unique heating and ventilation system. It will now allow maintaining the optimal temperature and air quality not only in the new music hall, but also in all the historical foyers of the theatre. where it was impossible to warm up the premises in the winter to the required temperature. Modern equipment with automatic tuning and remote control will be especially important now, at the opening of 34th season in order to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for spectators.
For many years and at present, the government of St. Petersburg, within the full powers of the Committees for Culture, for Property Relations, for State Control, Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments, has been working to transfer all premises of the mansion of Baron von Derviz to a single owner - the St. Petersburg Opera theatre. This undoubtedly contributes to the preservation of the Monument, as it allows to carry out research, design and restoration work in a single complex. Another part of the mansion has been restored, which will delight the locals and guests of the Northern capital.
The Committee for Culture is always in dialogue with the administration of the theatre and solicits for the provision of budgetary funding for the execution of priority applications in accordance with the assignments for the performance of work, issued in accordance with the established procedure to the theatre from the Committees. In the future plan, comprehensive design work on both buildings at 33 and 35 Galernaya Street will be completed by 2021, as well as continuation of restoration of the front suite of rooms on the second floor of the building.
With the support of the Committee for Culture, a new Steinway & Sons grand piano was purchased for the concerts in the Music Hall.
The 33rd theatrical season, in spite of the difficult epidemiological situation, was unusually fruitful for the St. Petersburg Opera. In early December, the first production of the season was the world premiere of A. Dargomyzhsky's opera Esmeralda. Today, after almost a century of oblivion, this opera runs only on the stage of the theatre St. Petersburg Opera.
The St. Petersburg Chamber Opera regularly presents St. Petersburg and Russian culture abroad at various forums and festivals. In 2019, the theatre took part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, presenting several original concert programs and productions, as well as in international and Russian festivals and tours.
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the National Theatre of Belgrade and the 20th anniversary of the Madlenianum Opera & Theatre, the St. Petersburg Opera toured in Serbia, to the “Year of the Theatre in Russia” and the 100th anniversary of the Russian Drama Theatre named after S. Vurgun was scheduled to tour in Baku (Azerbaijan), and as part of an exchange tour, the theatre performed in Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan). The troupe also participated in such international projects as: “Opera Days in Riga” (Latvia), “Opera Days in Tallinn” (Estonia), “Opera Days in Thessaloniki” (Greece). In 2019, the St. Petersburg Opera took part for the fourth time in projects of cultural and social significance: the Fourth Russian Festival “Seeing Music” in Moscow and in the Fourth International Chamber Opera Festival in St. Petersburg.
In April, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the St. Petersburg Opera switched to the online format. In official communities on social networks and on partner sites, the theatre presented for the audience recordings of its best performances. Streams took place on the theatre’s official YouTube channel, mass media channels such as the Fontanka (as part of the #nointermission project) and “Teatral” magazine. The theatre also took part in various projects, such as the All-Russian online marathon “#75wordsofvictory” and “Together to See the Music” (continuation of the project “Musical Klondike” and the Association of Musical Theatres). In the spring, on the Internet communities theatres launched their own online educational projects “Opera and Operetta. How the Play Is Born” and “The Magic Crystal Sound of the Harp”.
Ahead of the 34th season, the troupe of the theatre is full of creative plans, inspiration and energy. We sincerely hope that in the nearest future the St. Petersburg audience will be able to see planned premieres: “Elektra” by R. Strauss (the production will be carried out at the expense of subsidies from the federal budget of the Ministry of Culture for state support (grants) for the implementation of a creative project in 2020), “Cherevichki” by P. Tchaikovsky (a joint project of the theatre St. Petersburg Opera and Teatro Lirico di Cagliari in Italy) which will be presented on the stage of the Tinkoff Arena, and V. Gavrilin's “Russian Notebook”. Besides, numerous tours of the theatre are planned not only in Moscow, but also in Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Serbia and other countries.
The surprise of the press conference was the presentation of the new harp. Laureate of international competitions, leading concertmaster of the harp group Elizaveta Alexandrova presented a unique instrument that belonged to the famous performer Vera Dulova.
This is one of the first harps made in the Soviet Union. By order of the Communist Party in 1938, two Soviet masters Kaplyuk and Maikov created eight harps, which were supposed to surpass all Western ones that existed at that time. In 1948, a factory for the production of them named after Lunacharsky in Leningrad was opened, and harps were technically refined and presented as the first series of Soviet instruments. The technology of their manufacture has never existed before and has not been repeated later because of its laboriousness. To date, seven out of eight harps have been considered lost (one is in Israel). The harp, which has now become the property of the theatre, was accidentally discovered in Moscow, when the relatives of one of Dulova's first pupils inherited it.
The instrument needed a total restoration, which took Resonans Harps almost a year.
Solists of the St. Petersburg Chamber Opera performed at the press conference:
1.R. Strauss. Fragment of Elektra's aria from the opera “Elektra”
Performed by laureates of international competitions Tatyana Kalchenko (soprano) and Maria Chernysheva (piano)
2.V. Gavrilin. “It Was” from the vocal cycle "Russian Notebook"
Performed by laureates of international competitions Natalia Vorobyova (mezzo-soprano) and Maria Kustanovich (piano)
3. G. Rossini - N-Sh. Boxing. Fantasy "Zitti, zitti" on themes from the opera "The Barber of Seville"
Performed by the laureate of international competitions Elizaveta Alexandrova (harp)
4. C. Debussy. "Starry Night"
Performed by laureates of international competitions Alexandra Lyapich (soprano) and
Elizaveta Alexandrova (harp)