Monday 7 August 2023

A statement of solidarity between Belarusians & Ukrainians: Belarus Free Theatre's King Stakh's Wild Hunt unites actors, opera singers & musicians at the Barbican

Belarus Free Theatre - King Stakh's Wild Hunt - Barbican

Belarus Free Theatre (BFT), co-founding artistic directors, Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada, is known for its provocative physical theatre and it is the only theatre company in Europe banned by its government on political grounds.  On 14 September 2023 the company returns to the Barbican with the premiere of King Stakh's Wild Hunt, the most ambitious artistic venture BFT has ever undertaken as well as being a statement of solidarity between Belarusians and Ukrainians, united in total condemnation of the war in Ukraine. The production brings together actors, opera singers and musicians from Belarus and Ukraine, many of whom have been forced to flee their homelands due to war or dictatorship. The leading roles are performed by Ukrainian baritone, Andrei Bondarenko and Ukrainian soprano, Tamara Kalinkina, conducted by Vitali Alekseenok. 

Directed Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada, King Stakh’s Wild Hunt is a conversation between art forms, interlacing opera, theatre, multimedia and live music to tell a story rooted in the history of Belarus with relevance to Europe today and our indifference to brutality. King Stakh's Wild Hunt is one of the most popular novels by the visionary Belarusian writer, Uladzimir Karatkievich (1930-1984). Published in 1964, it is inspired by Eastern European folklore and follows the ghostly hunt to free a young heiress from an evil curse.

This score is by composer, Olga Podgaiskaya (born in Kazakhstan, brought up and trained in Belarus, currently living in Poland), conducted by Vitali Alekseenok, artistic director of the annual Kharkiv Music Fest in Ukraine, and First Kapellmeister and Deputy Music Director, soon to be Principal Conductor, at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf/Duisburg. The production features seven actors from BFT’s permanent ensemble, all exiled from their Belarusian homeland and now living in Poland and the UK; seven on-stage classical musicians from Belarus and Ukraine, known collectively as the Five-Storey Ensemble; and five opera singers from Ukraine including Andrei Bondarenko (winner of the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition Song Prize) and Tamara Kalinkina.

Full details from the Barbican website.

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