REVIEWS of PUSHKIN at Grange Park Opera 2018

Mark Ronan Theatre Reviews
“The best thing so far this summer and the audience acknowledged so with a standing ovation. …it does what opera is supposed to do – engage the audience in an emotional experience rather than an intellectual exercise.”

“The composer, Konstantin Boyarsky’s music combines quintessentially modern harmonies with the emotional qualities of modern musical theatre…while drawing on the rich Russian tradition.”

“That it covers as much as it does in two one-hour acts without losing the audience for a single minute is tribute to the brilliance of the libretto, and excellent quality of the staging by Igor Ushakov with wonderful costumes by Irene Belousova and lighting by Timofey Ermolin that cleverly separates different character.”

Opera Magazine
“Despite revealing Pushkin’s moral and financial fecklessness, the opera has you rooting for him all the way; he’s the ‘people’s poet’ ruthlessly exploited and spied on by the state, then driven mad by jealousy. Boyarsky could not champion him more valiantly in music that soars and surges… Waltzes, melting instrumental solos, set-piece arias and rousing choruses claim your attention. Confronted by Boyarsky’s score and all its inspirations, resistance is futile.”

The Guardian
“A flamboyant epic…Wednesday’s audience cheered wildly. It was an eccentric, roof-raising evening.”

MusicOMH
‘The Orchestra of Novaya Opera, Moscow, under the baton of Jan Latham-Koenig, is on top form and the result is a very moving evening exploring one of Russia’s greatest figures.”

“The music does not possess the type of sonority associated with many new operas, with much of it feeling extremely tuneful and lyrical.”

The Financial Times
The opera “addresses the issues of art and politics posed by Pushkin’s personal tragedy.”

British Theatre Guide
“The standing ovation spoke volumes at the end of this dramatic first night. Let’s hope the production is snapped up by more houses around the world.”

“Boyarsky’s instrumentation comes together as a whole for the second half and a building frenzy in the score mirrors Pushkin’s crazed demise on stage…This is interspersed with romantic orchestral numbers, which paired with Director Igor Ushakov’s ingenious tableau work is a delight to watch and listen to. Marita Phillips libretto is poetic, beautifully reflecting the title figure.”

Jan Latham-Koenig conducts with aplomb and the Novaya orchestra plays with great fire. Ushakov directs this show with few props and scant scenery, but makes striking images using the large chorus to maximum effect to create locations. All movement onstage is clearly choreographed (Sergey Satarov) and this stylised direction makes Pushkin into a visual spectacle, whilst emphasising the status of each character. This is paired with beautiful costumes by Irene Belousova and a strong lighting design by Timofey Ermolin.

Classical Source
“Boyarsky has come up with an amazing hybrid of a score…there are waltzes, plangent instrumental solos with some luminous writing for trumpet and some hefty choruses.”

“Pushkin is the sort of vocal part intended to flatter a tenor as sweet and powerful as Peter Auty’s. He is in characteristically ardent hyper-drive in conveying the poet’s flaws, naivety and greatness, his stature reinforced by the many quotes from his verse, both sung and spoken in Russian, that Phillips has folded into her text.”

Calvert Journal
“The allure lies in the opera’s compelling mix of British and Russian.”

Standpoint
“…beautifully staged by the Novaya Opera Company from Moscow, (it) gave a fascinating insight into the life and times of Pushkin.”

Blanche Marvin London Theatre Reviews
“It’s a very moving evening musically, a very enlightening evening storywise, and a great experiment in the exchange of opera houses.”

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NEWSPAPER ARTICLES 

The Times – Marita Phillips on her quest to find the real man.

The Observer interview with librettist Marita Phillips