What is “Helikon”?
There were a lot of opinions upon this question. Some people considered it was the mountain in Ancient Greece where singers and musicians sacrificed themselves to Apollo and muses. Others were firmly convinced that “Helikon” is not something else, but a wind instrument of the immense size. The end to disputes and doubts had been finally put on April, 10, 1990 when the Moscow musical theatre “HELIKON” which united young and talented actors and musicians was born in Russia.
The artistic director and the founder of theatre, the People’s Artist of Russia Dmitry Bertman has already staged more than 90 performances in Russia and abroad, including Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, Canada, Austria, Estonia, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark. His productions are always the exciting shows, which give spectators a charge of special energy.
The repertoire of “Helikon-Opera” (this is how the theatre is called today) consists of more than 50 performances, each of which is unique. The theatre has always been trying to depart the “convenient”, outworn scenic embodiments, to surprise the audience not only with novelty and impudence, but with bright vocal and drama performance, at the same time carefully treating a composer’s idea. The hall which has 250 seats is always full of spectators, despite quite expensive tickets. “Helikon-Opera” is one of the most interesting and attended theatres in Moscow.
The troupe of “Helikon-Opera”, which consisted of seven people in the beginning, today totals more than 350 actors. It is a strong ensemble of soloists, many of which are the honoured artists of Russia, the winners of international competitions and prizes. It is also a symphonic orchestra and chorus which besides repertoire performances give concerts on the most prestigious Moscow venues. Almost all chorus actors have diplomas of conductors or chorus masters. Soloists of theatre Natalia Zagorinskaya, Larissa Kostyuk, Tatiana Kuinji, Elena Semenova, Svetlana Sozdateleva, Vasily Efimov, Igor Tarasov, Mikhail Guzhov, Vadim Zaplechnyj, and many others act at the most prestigious opera theatres of Europe and America.
The theatre has released several CDs and video versions of the performances, staged both in Russia and abroad.
“Helikon-Opera” has deserved a convincing recognition of opera professionals, having received eight “Golden masks” in different nominations. In 2000 the theatre became the winner of the Moscow opera festival. In 2005 “Les Dialogues des Carmelites” performance won a prestigious theatre prize “Hit of the Season”, established by the Theatrical Workers Union. In 2006 the same prize was given to "Fallen from the Sky" under the motives of Prokofiev's "The story of a Real Man".
Today the theatre is quite famous outside Russia. The outstanding musicians of the present cooperate with it. “Die Fledermaus” performance in Eviane (2000) conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich became the remarkable event in music world. The production of Verdi’s “Aida” attracted attention in Strasbourg at the festival devoted to the 100-anniversary from the death of G. Verdi, and a concert of chorus and an orchestra with legendary tenor Roberto Alanja awoke great interest. In 2004 the theatre opened the summer festival in Santander with Bellini’s "Norma" in which the opera primadonna Maria Gulegina shone. The concert of “Helikon-Opera” choir with Angela Georgiu also took place in Santander that summer.
In November 2004 Dmitry Bertman staged Verdi’s “Nabucco” in Paris and Dijon (France). The performance received positive reviews in European media. The role of Abigail was played by Maria Guleghina and Svetlana Sozdateleva, the soloist of “Helikon-Opera”. In October 2005 Dmitry Bertman staged "Nabucco" again, in Mariinsky theatre of Saint-Petersburg. The conductor was maestro Valery Gergiev.
The spectators of more than 50 cities of Austria, Great Britain, Spain, the USA, France… applauded to the theatre. Numerous reviews in such respected papers as “The Financial Times”, “Le Monde”, “The Independent”, “Washington post”, “Le Figaro”, “Herald Tribune” testify that the theatre is the active participant of world musical process.
The constant “Helikon-Opera” spectators are the famous political figures, businessmen and artists, representatives of diplomatic corps and many others.
The main corporate clients of the theatre are the famous companies like: Аmerican Express, Ost West Allianz Insurance Co., Ingosstrakh, Renaissance Capital, TOTAL, West LB Bank, Egon Zehnder International, Algorithm Group, United Way Moscow, Sсhwarzkopf, L'Oreal, Hoffman la Roche, Ford, Hewlett Packard, Boehringer Ingelheim, National Reserve Bank, Russian Focus, Volvo Car International, AZR – Zvezda Rusi, Vneshtorgbank, Vash Dosug, Hachette Filipacchi Presse, Eastwood Travel France, Baltchug Kempinski Moscow, Sodis, Motorola, KRKA, ABN AMRO Bank, Panasonic.
Since 2007 the building of the theatre on Bolshaya Nikitskaya street is under reconstruction. The unique project of restoration is developed with a group of architects of Mosproject-4 under Andrey Bokov, the president of Union of Architects of Russia. According to this project a contemporary opera house with two halls for 600 and 200 seats have to appear as a result of the restoration. Since 2006 “Helikon-opera” is situated at the theatrical hall in Novy Arbat, 11, where earlier “Et Cetera” theatre was been situated earlier.
The performances in Novy Arbat go at full speed. In May, 2006 Muscovites saw the premiere of "Siberia" by U. Giordano there. In October, 2006 the premiere of "Boris Godunov" by M. Musorgskiy in D. D. Shostakovich edition was held. In June 2007 in "Helikon in Arbat" Dmitry Bertman staged "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" by G. Rossini, and "Le Nozze di Figaro" by W. A. Mozart was produced in September 2007.
In October 2008 the premiere performances of "Rasputin" by J. Reise were held with great success. "Rasputin" opera was written by Jay Reise on his own libretto on request of New York City Opera and was devoted to outstanding American singer Beverly Sills.
In June 2009 "Helikon-Opera" theatre presented the world's premiere of "Tsarina" opera by D. Tukmanov's on stage of Alexandrinsky theatre of Saint-Petersburg (the production happened with the support of META Enlightment Fund). Moscow premiere of "Tsarina" took place on the 25th and 26th of November 2009 on stage of The State Kremlin Palace.
The premiere of "The Love for Three Oranges" by S. S. Prokofiev took place in "Helikon-Opera" in October 2009.
In April 2010 "Helikon-Opera" celebrated its 20th anniversary.
On May 27, 2010 on the stage of Svetlanov Hall of the Moscow International House of Music live version of Bellini's opera "Norma" was performed by soloists, chorus and orchestra of "Helikon-Opera", the world's opera star Italian singer Norma Fantini sang the title role.
In November 2010, the highly successful tour of "Helikon-Opera" was held on stage of Opera de Massy (Paris, France) with the performances of "The Love for Three Oranges" by S. Prokofiev and "Rasputin" by J. Reise.
In the season 2010-2011 cooperation of "Helikon-Opera" with "META" Education Fund continued on "Tsarina" opera by David Tukhmanov. After triumphant performances in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Krasnodar and Ufa, "Helikon" took a tour in the Russian regions (Vladivostok, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Orenburg, Samara, Ufa, Chelyabinsk).
"Helikon-Opera" also cooperates with the Moscow International House of Music. In addition to the "Opera Fairy Tale Welcomes Guests" performance in November 2010, as part of the season ticket of "Fashionable Opera" on stage Svetlanov Hall in February 2011, a concert performance of Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" was presented. On April 1, 2011 on stage of Svetlanov Hall the world premiere of "Prince Igor" opera by Alexander Borodin in composer's edition was held. Many critics recognized "Prince Igor" as the main event of the musical season-2011. The audience heard all the music, written by Alexander Borodin, which is traditionally not performed. On February 4, 2012 a performance of "Die Fledermaus" by Johann Strauss took place on stage of Svetlanov Hall.
On October 26, 2011 "Helikon-Opera" presented the premiere performance of "Das Liebesverbot" after the comic opera of Richard Wagner's "The Ban of Love, or Novice from Palermo", written by the composer on his own libretto based on William Shakespeare's play "Measure for Measure". This opera had been never staged in Russia before.
On January 19, 2012 "Helikon-opera" dedicated "Baptised by Pokrovsky" concert to the 100th anniversary since birth of the great Russian director, a friend and mentor of "Helikon-opera" Boris Alexandrovich Pokrovsky.
The most important tour event of 2012 was "Helikon's Season" at the "Days of Saaremaa Opera" International festival in July 2012 in Estonia. "Helikon" showed "Boris Godunov", "The Barber of Seville", "Rasputin", "Kaffeekantate" and a gala concert where "Helikon-Opera" performed together with the star of world opera Karita Mattila (Finland).
On the 28th of September 2012 the premiere of the "Back in the USSR!" performance took place in "Helikon in Arbat". Songs by Isaak Dunayevsky, Vasily Solovyov-Sedoy, Nikita Bogoslovsky, Matvey Blanter, Boris Mokrousov, Tikhon Khrennikov, Yuri Miliutin and Anatoly Lepin were performed. A song by Paul McCartney was an epigraph of the performance.
At the end of November 2012 a premiere of "KALMANIA" perfomance, devoted to the 130th anniversary since Imre Kalman's birth, is planned.