Friday 22 January 2021

Grange Park Opera and the Romanoff Foundation collaborate on making Ivan the Terrible more accessible

Feodor Chaliapin as Ivan the Terrible in Rimsky Korsakov's opera
Feodor Chaliapin as Ivan the Terrible in Rimsky Korsakov's opera

Despite the limitations caused by lockdown,  Grange Park Opera (GPO) was remarkably active last year, creating content on-line - 50 new events involving over 150 artists. A new partnership with the Romanoff Foundation means that GPO will be able to make its forthcoming production of Rimsky-Korsakov's Ivan the Terrible available to as wide a possible audience via recording and live-streaming.

GPO is planning Ivan the Terrible as part of the Summer season (19 June - 14 July 2021), with David Pountney directing the opera. Ivan the Terrible was Rimsky Korsakov's first opera; he wrote the libretto himself and the work premiered in 1873, though he revised it twice and the definitive version dates from 1892. The role of Ivan was made famous by Feodor Chaliapin who sang it in Paris in 1909 (the work's premiere outside Russia) as part of one of Serge Diaghilev's seasons. 

Chaliapin first sang the role in St Petersburg in 1896 (a year after the premiere of Rimsky Korskov's final version), and Diaghilev had previously presented the singer in the title role of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov in Paris in 1908. 1909 was the first year that Diaghilev presented ballet as part of his Paris seasons, the debut of the Ballets Russes.

The opera's Russian name, Псковитя́нка (Pskovityanka) translates as The Maid of Pskov, but Diaghilev introduced it to Western audiences as Ivan the Terrible because of the dominance of this role and the fact that Ivan's name was known in the West. If you want to do your homework then the Mariinsky Theatre's 1994 production of the opera is on YouTube.

The Romanoff Foundation is making an initial grant to support the live filming/streaming of Ivan the Terrible, making it accessible to those unable to attend in person. In the lead up to the performances, the Foundation will also host a series of live and recorded events with the aim of increasing historical and cultural awareness of the reign of Ivan the Terrible and Russia’s relationship with the Tsar’s English contemporaries, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

The Romanoff Foundation is a UK-based charity founded by Prince and Princess Dmitri Romanoff supports Russian émigré institutions which promote, celebrate and carry Russian culture and heritage as well as the people who are cared for by these institutions. Prince Dmitri Romanoff (1926-2016) was the great-great grandson of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia.

Further information from the Grange Park Opera website.

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