Monday, April 22, 2013

St. Petersburg, Russia

The next business trip took me to St. Petersburg, Russia.

ROHM is bringing in a "Madama Butterfly" from the Mariinsky Theatre, so primarily for technical issues our Technical Director and I traveled all the way to Russia to see it. The original production, directed by Mariusz Trelinski, belongs to Teatr Wielki in Warsaw, and it is one that I had brought to Washington National Opera a while back. A few years ago the Mariinksy Theatre was licensed to built a slightly scaled down copy of the production which they still own. Even scaled down from its original grand scope the production still presents some scenic challenges and we wanted to see those first-hand to work out any solutions for our theatre ahead of time.

It is a wonderful production that was extremely successful and well received in Washington. 

In St. Petersburg it looked just like I remembered: striking imagery, cinematic transitions and beautiful traditional, if stylized, costuming.

A view of the Mariinsky in the snowy Russian winter....remember that when we left Muscat it was sunny and 26°C (78°F)!

My colleague, Geoff W. and I were the only ones in the royal box for the performance! Just as in days past the audience stared inquisitively into the box, wondering who these people were who rated a private suite.

We also had the chance to see a performance of "La Juive" by Halévy at the Mikhailovsky Theatre across town (next to the Russian Museum). It is a company that has seen a surge in popularity in recent years after the auditorium and lobbies were renovated and the whole company reinvigorated.

It was a productive trip overall and I enjoyed being back in St. Petersburg again. My first trip was in 1994 and in several visits since then I have gotten to know many colleagues in this beautiful city. 
Having grown up with the Wall dividing Berlin and Germany, and the world divided into the Eastern and Western blocs of the Cold War, it never ceases to impress me to be strolling around so comfortably in St. Petersburg, Russia. Oh, and right now I have a 3 year/multiple-entry Russian visa in my passport.....the world certainly is an amazing and ever evolving place !

Dosvedanya !

Monday, April 15, 2013

Milano and Verona

In recent weeks I have been out "on the opera road" on Royal Opera House business.

First up: Milan and Verona, Italy.
The main purpose of the trip was for our Technical Director, Geoff W., and I to go to Verona to evaluate a possible production for us to bring to Muscat, but first a stop in Milan thanks to available direct flight routing. I used the opportunity to meet a couple of friends and we all went to La Scala to see a production of "Nabucco". A very grey production, although, without going into details, I have to say I am glad I had the opportunity to see it.

The weather in Milano was sunny and cold at first, but then turned dreadful! Grey, cold, snowy, wet...and the same in Verona. Not the weather I have been used to in Muscat!

We took a morning train to Verona in time to see a matinee of Verdi's "Attila" (not the show we are considering bringing), after which we met with an agent to discuss a few other possible productions for ROHM from other Italian companies. In the evening we were free, so I managed to take a rather nostalgic tour just outside Verona to visit a place that has great memories for me. I went to the Baita (a wooden, mountain-retreat-style house) belonging to the Coro Stella Alpina where I reconnected with friends from 30 years ago and revisited this house where some childhood friends from Hamburg (Jens, Gernot, Ingrid, Alphons, Hanne, Joachim, Thies) and I had spent some memorable summers.

Our whole "gang" would stay at the Baita, see performances at the Arena di Verona and enjoy the hospitality of the Coro Stella Alpina members.

The next morning we had a long and productive meeting in Verona, then returned to Milan in the late afternoon and flew back to Muscat that same evening.

A quick but fruitful trip on many levels !