The “Crystal Palace” ballet press-conference was held on 21 June at the Metropol hotel in Moscow and was attended by officials, music critics, observers and international mass media.
The event was opened by Alan Kirkop, the artistic director of the European Foundation for Support of Culture. He said that after the Malta International Musical Festival press conference, which made huge success in Moscow in March 2017, it’s the 2nd time the EFSC held conferences in the city. Also, he reported that the performance of the high calibre “Crystal Palace” would help to celebrate the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Malta in the best way.
At the press conference Mr. Kirkop emphasised the importance of culture for the maintenance of international dialogue. The Ambassador of Malta in the Russian Federation Karmel Brinkat agreed: “Malta is a meeting of the Mediterranean culture, and in Russia — the multinational state — the cultures of different ethoses are presented. We consider that culture is the most effective tool promoting the best mutual understanding of the people of Russia and Malta. The new remarkable Russian-Maltese project “Crystal Palace” is devoted to the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, and we support this fine cultural event in every possible way.”
Celebrities and special guests from Russia and Malta taking part in the production included soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre, ballet dancers of leading Moscow theatres, including the Bolshoi Theatre, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Pavel Klinichev, distinguished ballet conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre, the Stagecoach Malta choir and students of the Brigitte Gauci Borda School of Ballet.
The project was initiated by the European Foundation for Support of Culture and was carried out with assistance of the Department for External Economic and International Relations affiliated to the Moscow government, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Malta, the Embassy of the Russian Federation, the Russian Cultural Center in Malta, the Maltese-Russian Friendship Foundation and APKI.
The Maltese Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) performed the music for “Crystal Palace”. Sigmund Mifsud, the director of the MPO, in his speech at the press conference announced of the importance of similar events for the orchestra and added: “We have already successfully performed in Vienna’s “Musikverein” and, for sure, we expect with impatience this project. The staging of “Crystal palace” is a new unique experience for our team.
“Crystal Palace” takes place in 1740, at the court of the Russian Empress Anna Ioannovna. In the capital, luxurious celebrations have been organised. The empress learns about two sweethearts and orders them to marry. But the hearts of the lovers are not filled with joy. For the bride and the groom, by the order of the Empress, must spend the winter night after the nuptials in a specially-erected palace, where the walls, the bed, and even the flowers, were made of ice.
Based on historical archives, Russian theatre professionals recreated the atmosphere of the 18th Century using original Baroque decorations and costumes for the Valletta premiere. Elena Netsvetayeva-Dolgaleva, costume designer and former ballerina of the Bolshoi Theatre, said: “It is an era of very beautiful women and gallant men. We have forgotten about this beauty in our century of technologies. The ballet is greatly performed in style of the Russian application-oriented and theatre artists. We did not use modern technologies, everything is made by hands of masters.”
The director became Ekaterina Mironova, guest ballet master of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and an Honored Worker of Culture of Russia. She noted that there was a fine production tandem which presented a fascinating and beautiful performance.
The performance employs complicated special effects and tricks, while also implementing elements borrowed from ancient theatre. Sergey Timonin, the set designer of staging, shared with guests of a conference: “My task was to create classical imperial ballet theatre. We wanted to put a multi-event performance with changes of scenery and different pictures. We have done serious work on equipment of the platform as special mechanisms. It was collaboration of the Russian and Maltese teams, and we very strongly counted on each other.” Another symbolical moment for celebration of the Maltese-Russian diplomatic relations was the score of the piece written by Alexey Shor. Living in Malta now, with Russian roots, Shor is the composer-in- residence with the Maltese Philharmonic Academy. In another Russia-Malta collaboration, the MPO performed under the direction of Pavel Klinichev, three-time owner of “ Golden Mask” in The Best Ballet Conductor nomination. He said: “I had to work with modern composers, and for me it is interesting as to the conductor because I had an opportunity to change something in process, to argue, agree and finally to obtain the result. It is the process of non-stopping dialogue of the director, composer and conductor.”
The choreography was performed par excellence under the main soloists of the ballet— the brilliant Ivan Vasilyev and Maria Vinogradova. Spouses in real life, they played a loving couple on the stage. Maria Vinogradova noted the work of the remarkable team and added: “For me as for the performer, this project is very interesting, it is a mix of all theatrical genres in one performance.” Anna Ioannovna was played by Maria Poroshina, actress of theatre and cinema, also winner of the award “Golden Eagle”. During the press conference guests especially were interested where and when tours in other capitals would be. “Crystal Palace” has earned its place amongst rich cultural memories as a stunning large-scale and spectacular event which promises to inspire for years to come.
The Special Envoy of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cultural Cooperation
Mikhail Shvydkoi cited Tolstoy: “Art serves as means of uniting people — without needing the translation, it allows to directly reflect images and emotions,-” adding that this communicative function of art, perhaps, comes to the forefront in international relations.
He was sure that the performance “Crystal Palace” illustrated one of the great episodes in Russian history. Created by recognised leading figures, in cooperation with Maltese performers, the piece attracted considerable interest of the Maltese public and became one of the brightest events of bilateral cultural communication.
Moreover, he emphasized that the event envisaged the celebration of the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Despite the fact that the history of bilateral communication began much earlier, this date is, undoubtedly, an important milestone in cooperation of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Malta, characterised today by close practical interaction in various areas. The Special Envoy heartily wished great success to organisers, the acting company and bright impressions for the audience.
Department Head of the Russian Cultural Centre
Sergey Medvedev is the head of department of The Russian Cultural Centre (the RCC) and country programs of the federal agency “Rossotrudnichestvo”, with eight years of the professional activity as the director of the RСС in Valletta. He spoke about the connection between Maltese and Russian cultures: “Catherine the Greats portrait hangs in the Ambassadorial hall of the Presidential palace of Malta, where she “meets” each foreign ambassador who presents the credentials to the President of Malta.
The Mediterranean Conference Centre is the representative of Russian culture in Malta. Events regularly place there with the MPO as well as at the Russian Cultural Centre.
The first ballet school in Malta was opened by the Russian princess Natalya Putyatina. Some Maltese ballet schools still carry on the Russian choreographic traditions. Graduates of the ballet schools in Malta will perform on one stage with soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre.
The Mediterranean Conference Centre is just several hundred meters from the port, from which the members of Russian imperial family descended on Maltese land. Maria Fiodorovna, mother of the emperor Nicholas II, was the last in 1919.”
Also, he added that it is very important that the celebration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations was held jointly with members of civil society, public, creative, cultural organisations and the assistance of Russian compatriots living in Malta.