LIFE&CULTURE

Moscow thaw: from Strauss to KISS

We’re finally seeing the first warm days that everybody in Moscow waits for in anticipation. Over the long winter months, the city’s residents get tired of snow, freezing temperatures, icy roads and slush on warmer days. Now, we are ready for gentle sunrays, flowers and green grass. Everybody feels like singing and finding joy in everything: unique exhibitions, interesting lectures, an opera, a beautiful Viennese waltz or a tour of your favorite band from your university days.

The Exhibition Hall of the Patriarch's Palace of the Moscow Kremlin is hosting an exhibition for those who are interested in French history - “Saint Louis and the Relics Sainte-Chapelle.” Visitors will get to see true masterpieces of Gothic art from the era of this French king. The majority of the exhibits will be shown in Russia for a long time, including the stained glass from the most beautiful Gothic chapel of the world, built on the island of Cité in Paris, as well as unique everyday objects from large collections such as the Louvre, the Musée national du Moyen Âge, a number of provincial French museums, as well as manuscripts and documents from the National Library and the National Archives of France.

History buffs may also be interested in a series of lectures by experts from museums of the Moscow Kremlin, which will take place on Manezhnaya Street. For example, there will be a series of lectures called “Faberge - the famous dynasty of jewelers.” The lectures will tell the story of a firm that became the largest and most successful jewelry enterprise in Russia at the end of the 19th century. Visitors will find out Faberge’s famous clients, which included members of the Royal Family and Russian aristocracy, financial magnates and representatives of artistic bohemia.

A separate lecture will be dedicated to Faberge’s most famous pieces - Easter souvenirs, which were ordered by Russian emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter presents for their wives. Each Easter egg had a precious surprise inside - a tiny symbol of important historical landmarks of that time or events in the life of the royal family.

In the meantime, the Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val will be presenting a major exhibition project dedicated to the Khrushchev Thaw until June 11. This time period starts in 1953, when the first amnesties of political prisoners took place after the death of Joseph Stalin and ends in 1968, when Soviet tanks first entered Czechoslovakia.

This relatively short period of time, which lasted just 15 years, received its own separate label for a reason. It was filled with important events, including cultural events. There was even a unique style, an original version of 1960s Soviet modernism, that emerged during the Khrushchev Thaw. A lot of this was prompted by scientific accomplishments in space and nuclear energy. Space and nuclear energy had an influence on the way people thought, pushing them to broaden their horizons and look toward the future. Everybody who participated in the creative process was looking for a new language that could adequately capture the times. Some artists looked to the heritage of Russian avant-garde. Film and theatre, prose and poetry, architecture and design all saw a new impetus for development. The exhibition tries to capture the spirit of all of these social and cultural processes, including the explosion of creative activity.

The exposition is a single installation that includes various artefacts: painting and graphics, sculptures, household items, design samples, fragments of feature films and documentaries. The exhibition space is divided into seven thematic sections. For example, the “International Relations” section focuses on the conflict between the USSR and the US. The cold war and the threat of a nuclear explosion influenced culture during this time period. The two superpowers completed not only in terms of arms, but also in terms of promoting their lifestyles in the media. The “Nuclear - Space” section demonstrates how the development of research institutions and access to higher education produced new heroes - students and scientists. After the launch of Sputnik in 1957, space took over the minds of people. It became one of the main themes in Soviet culture, impacting not only paintings and poetry, but also the design of everyday items.

In the Spring, Johann Strauss Vienna Orchestra, directed by Rainer Ross, will once again perform in Moscow. Fans of the orchestra remember the New Year Vienna Gala - a triumphal New Year performance of this orchestra together with the Vienna National Opera in Moscow in 2011-2016, as well as the grandiose "Johann Strauss Ball" at the House of Music in the spring of 2016. This season, the Vienna Orchestra has prepared for the Russian public a new program of masterpieces by Johann Strauss and Franz Lehar, featuring the Vienna Opera Elisabeth soloist Flechl (soprano) and Vienna Opera ballet soloists. This highlight of the program will be the three most famous masterpieces of the king of waltz: "On the Beautiful Blue Danube", the overture to the operetta "The Bat" and the famous "Vienna encore" - "March of Radetzky." In addition to this triad of hits, the program will feature the most beloved fragments of the operettas "The Bat" and "Merry Widow."

At the end of April, Tokio Hotel is coming to the Russian capital for a concert. After releasing their last album in 2014, the band performed across 20 countries all over the world. The record went platinum and was the number one hit in 30 countries. Over 7 million records were sold all over the world. The band is coming back to Moscow for a new show, but will of course perform their biggest hit over the past ten years of their existence. The band was formed in 2001 by two twin brothers from Germany, Bill and Tom Kaulitz. After watching the brothers perform, bass player Georg Listing and drummer Gustav Schafer joined them. When the band first got together, all of the members were between 12 and 14 years of age. Their songs include contemplations on serious social problems like drug addiction and suicide. The songs reflect topics that interest young people today. The majority of Tokio Hotel’s songs are in German. This is why the band’s fans have all started to learn German. The band even received a special thank you from the Goethe Institute for contributing to the popularization of German all over the world. However, many songs have English versions as well.

May 1st will bring a grandiose gift to all KISS fans - their only concert in Russia will take place at Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex. Moreover, Moscow will be the first stop on the band’s European tour. The are performing at the Hartwell Arena in Helsinki on May 4, the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm on May 6, and Spektrum in Oslo on May 7.

The legendary American band featuring Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer played a series of concerts across the US in the summer and fall of 2016. After an onslaught of requests from fans, they have now decided to head over to Europe.

KISS is internationally recognized as one of the most influential rock bands in the world. The band’s trademark is elaborate stage makeup and concerts featuring various pyrotechnic effects. KISS performances are considered to be some of the most spectacular shows to see! Moreover, KISS has over 40 gold and platinum records, and have sold over 100 million records. The last concert KISS gave in Moscow was almost 10 years ago and the capital’s fans have had time to miss their idols, which is why the show in Moscow is one of the most anticipated concerts on the tour.

Fans of Makvala Kasrashvili are in for a treat as well. At the end of April, the Bolshoi Theatre will host an evening with the famous opera singer. Kasrashvili was born in Kutaisi, Georgia. She graduated from the Tbilisi Conservatory in 1966 and immediately became a Bolshoi Theatre soloist. This talented woman takes part in productions of leading opera theatres all over the world (Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera, the Bavarian State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, the Mariinsky Theater, etc.). Aside from opera arias, her concert programs include works by Tchaikovsky, Rakhmaninov and cantatas with oratorios (Rossini’s “Little solemn mass,” Verdi’s “Requiem,” Britten’s “War Requiem,” and Shostakovich’s “14th symphony”).

On May 31, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory will be hosting three piano concerts in one night. Visitors will be able to hear works by Schumann, Grieg and Beethoven, performed by the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Pavel Kogan

The Chekhov Moscow Art Theater is hosting a new premiere: a play based on Evgeny Schwartz’s “The Dragon,” featuring the famous actor Oleg Tabakov in the lead role. This is what an ad for the production says: “Not about politics. Not about love. Not about money. About how pink is more frightening than black, night is brighter than day, and insanity is the most sane choice when there is no option left...About how one head is good and three is bad. And, most importantly: a woman’s best accessory is modesty and a see-through dress.” Visitors are promised “the best songs, incendiary dancing, great actors, incredible sincerity, frightening candor, and the finest sarcasm.” So who is in charge of all this madness? The scandalous, ambitious and young director Konstantin Bogomolov. The main theme of “The Dragon” - the battle between good and evil - has always been of great interest to Moscow’s theatre directors. Konstantin Bogomolov always brings his personal touch to any play, but also tries to reflect the world of the person who wrote the play - Evgeny Schwartz. After all, his play is based on bitter irony, absurdity and a sense of horror before an imperfect world.

And another interesting experiment in Moscow’s theatre scene. It is dedicated to the last few years of Leo Tolstoy’s life. The play “Russian Romance” has been running since January at the Mayakovsky Theater. The production is the work of two Lithuanian artists. This dynamic, rhythmical play offers the audience to look at the last few years of Tolstoy’s family life through the prism of key scenes from “Anna Karenina,” stories about temptations of the flesh from “The Devil,” and Tolstoy’s journals. The great writer himself never actually appears on stage. Instead, the audience watches Levin, Kitty, Anna and Vronsky from “Anna Karenina” quarrel and worry, observes Aksinya from “The Devil” and Tolstoy’s family members - his ambitious but talentless son Leo, his straightforward daughter Sasha, and even his dog Markiz. Sofia Andreevna, Tolstoy’s wife, is in charge of the household and is struggling to win over the heart of her husband again. Actress Evgeniya Simonova understands the psychological subtleties of the role - immensely devoted to her husband and children, but by the end so completely exhausted, half-mad and hysterical. Sofia, who had 13 children with Tolstoy, is constantly lapsing into hysterical fits. And she has reason to: a meeting with Tolstoy’s aging lover, whom she despises and is jealous of. Of course, the play covers Leo Tolstoy’s escape from Yasnaya Polyana and his death.

On June 21, the House of Music will host an event for fans of jazz. Daniel Kramer has been holding “Jazz Games” across various capitals of the world by inviting colleagues to play music together. “Jazz Games is kind of like my business card,” the musician explains, “the name took me a long time to come up with and it’s there for a reason. I don’t really play jazz. I play classical music, jazz, rock, funk, some blues, this can’t be considered pure jazz. But I do everything I can and I try to do it so that jazz isn’t just a form of entertainment, but is deeper than that. On the other hand, jazz is relatively young compared to classical music. It needs to mature. So in a sense I am playing around, though I’m playing around seriously.” The concert is one hundred percent improvisation.

At the end of June, there will be a real cinematic boom in Moscow. The capital will be hosting the Moscow International Film Festival. It is patronized by one of the most famous directors in Russia, Nikita Mikhalkov. He manages to gather under his wing various cinematographers from all over the world. For example, the main prize (Zolotoy Georgiy) last year went to Reza Mirkarimi, and Iranian filmmaker and director of “Daughter.” A special prize (Serebryanniy Georgy) went to the Bulgarian director Radoslav Spassov for his film “Singing Shoes.” During the festival, all city residents have a unique opportunity to learn about movies from some of the most interesting and original directors all over the world. Fans also get to watch their favorite stars walk on the red carpet during the opening of the festival. Some of the most beautiful actresses in Russia regularly make appearances: Julia Peresild, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Svetlana Ivanova, Paulina Andreeva, Victoria Isakova, Ekaterina Vilkova, Olesya Sudzilovskaya, Irina Bezrukova, Ekaterina Guseva and many others.

 

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