Theatre in Wales

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World-renowned Mariinsky Opera returns to Wales Millennium Centre this November     

World-renowned Mariinsky Opera returns to Wales Millennium Centre this November

Mariinsky Opera are to perform Prokofiev’s comic opera, Betrothal in a Monastery, at Wales Millennium Centre on 2 November 2014, conducted by one of the world’s most acclaimed conductors, Valery Gergiev. The concert performance is a highlight event in the 10th Anniversary celebratory programme for Wales landmark arts centre. It also marks the signing of a six year extension to the creative partnership first established between the Mariinsky Theatre and Wales Millennium Centre in 2007.

This new stage in already fruitful partnership between the Mariinsky Theatre and Wales Millennium Centre will guarantee regular performances from the Russian Theatre’s opera and ballet companies for the next five years.

Lord Rowe-Beddoe, Life President of Wales Millennium Centre who created the alliance between the two organisations in 2007 said, “We are very proud of our unique partnership with the Mariinsky Opera. Bringing the best of the world to Wales, and taking the best of Wales to the world is the Centre’s ambition. Therefore it is important to celebrate our 10th Anniversary with a return of Maestro Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Opera, with its powerful and highly esteemed orchestra and chorus. As of this year, Wales Millennium Centre and the Mariinsky Theatre have renewed their close and productive strategic collaboration until the end of 2020. I am delighted that we have been able to extend this partnership, the focus of which will rest on the delivery of regular performances at Wales Millennium Centre by both the Mariinsky Opera Company and Ballet Company.”

A rare performance across Western Europe, Betrothal in a Monastery, full of infectious melodies and wickedly funny characters, will be brought to life by celebrated conductor Valery Gergiev’s characteristic wit and vigour. Set in Seville, and with a nod to the operas of Mozart, Rossini and Verdi amongst others, chaos and confusion reign in this tale of mistaken identities.

The performance of Betrothal in a Monastery on 2 November is to be followed on 6 November by a rendition of Rachmaninov’s Vespers by the Mariinsky Chorus at Llandaff Cathedral.


In November-December 2006 the Mariinsky Opera’s only UK staging of its spectacular Ring Cycle was presented by Wales Millennium Centre. Valery Gergiev brought all the forces of the Mariinsky Opera Company to perform a single Cycle, the first complete Russian Ring since the Mariinsky’s pre-revolutionary staging of 1913.

The partnership between the two companies began in 2007. Over the last seven years, there have been a number of cultural exchanges which have included Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel joining Valery Gergiev on stage for the first time in the UK for an Opera Gala.

In 2012 when Maestro Valery Gergiev confirmed the programme he wished to present at the Centre it initially posed something of a challenge for the Centre’s team. Mahler’s Symphony No 8 is frequently called the Symphony of a Thousand, because it requires huge instrumental and vocal forces – two adult mixed choirs, as well as a children’s chorus. The Centre therefore supplemented the Mariinsky’s renowned touring chorus by amassing a Welsh choir that could realise the true potential of the live performance in both Wales and Russia. Maestro Gergiev invited the Wales Millennium Centre’s children’s chorus, made up of 75 children from all across Wales, to perform in the prestigious Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg.

Vespers (All-Night Vigil), which will be performed in Llandaff Cathedral, is one of the most beautifully moving unaccompanied choral works of the twentieth century. Rachmaninov combines melodies of ancient Russian canticles with his own inventions to create a superb example of sacred music in the best tradition of the Russian Orthodox church. Composed in 1915 amidst the turmoil of WW1, the contrast of its atmosphere of calm reflection made it all the more powerful at the time. With its skilful mastery of choral texture, its understanding of the nature of church singing, and the depth of its immersion into ancient Russian musical traditions make Vespers one of the greatest masterpieces of Russian religious music and one of Russia’s best renowned choral ensembles, as immensely popular today as it was when first performed.

Tickets for Mariinsky Opera’s performance of Prokofiev’s Betrothal in a Monastery, and the Mariinsky Chorus’ performance of Rachmaninov’s Vespers are now on sale. For more information and to book tickets visit www.wmc.org.uk or call 029 2063 6464.
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