World premiere of opera “Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess” drawing nearer

World premiere of opera “Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess” drawing nearer
Publicity photo . A moment from a “Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess” rehearsal
The premiere of the young composer Kristaps Pētersons’ avant-garde opera-lecture “Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess”, with libretto by Sergejs Timofejevs, will be held at the Latvian National Opera on the 12th of March as part of the European Capital of Culture Riga programme. The creative team behind the new production includes two conductors, Ainārs Rubiķis and Atvars Lakstīgala and Viesturs Meikšāns is the stage director.

The Latvian National Opera hosted the grand opening of the European Capital of Culture Riga at the beginning of the year. Now, in collaboration with the “Riga 2014” foundation, the opera continues to be instrumental in presenting new creative achievements to the public.

On the 12th of March, the Latvian National Opera presents the premiere of “Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess”, an avant-garde opera/lecture by the young composer Kristaps Pētersons and librettist Sergejs Timofejevs. Stage director Viesturs Meikšāns chose to create the opera as a multimedia lecture. The number of cast members is 32 (fourteen chamber ensemble musicians, eight singers, eight dancers and two conductors) – the precise number of pieces in a chess game.

At the centre of the opera is the unusual phenomenon behind the popularity of chess during the Cold War. The opera’s musical dramaturgy is precisely based on the decisive 1960 Moscow World Championship match, in which Latvia’s legendary chess player Mikhail Tal dethroned the seemingly-invincible Soviet public’s favourite Mikhail Botvinnik.

The production’s creative team is made up of brilliant internationally acclaimed new-generation artists: conductors Ainārs Rubiķis and Atvars Lakstīgala, set designer Reinis Suhanovs, librettist Sergejs Timofejevs, choreographer Kirill Burlov, video artist Carlos Franklin and costume designers “MAREUNROL’S” who had also created costumes for the impressive “Rienzi. Rise and Fall” that opened the European Capital of Culture Riga year. The cast consists of opera singers Dana Bramane, Armands Siliņš, Juris Ādamsons, Ieva Parša, Andris Lapiņš and others.

“The story itself is the most important part of the performance. If the Americans have John Cage, who changed the perception of avant-garde music, then we have Mikhail Tal whose symbolic victory in a match against Mikhail Botvinnik changed the way of thinking in the world of chess. The meaning and essence of this story is very inspirational,” says Viesturs Meikšāns, the director of the performance.

The opera-lecture is in Russian, scheduled for the 12th, 13th, 21st of March and the 23rd of May at the Latvian National Opera’s New Hall, and the 7th and 10th of June at the Riga Opera Festival. More information about the performance may be found on the LNO website.

Given the unusual opera-lecture format of the performance, the “Talk Before Premiere” will also be off the beaten path, this time done as a tour: members of the public are invited to attend the “Talk Before Premiere” at the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, Palasta iela 4, on the 5th of March at 7 p.m. Programme: unexpected museum exhibits, meeting with the production’s creative team and Mikhail Tal’s coach, Valentīns Kirilovs.

Tickets to the “Talk Before Premiere” and “Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess” are available at LNO, “Biļešu paradīze” outlets and online.

The performance is supported by the “Riga 2014” foundation and ENOA (European Network of Opera Academies).

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