Artistic director of the production – the founder of the theater Dmitry Bertman, director – Ilya Ilyin, director – Valery Kiryanov, set design by Rostislav Protasov, lighting by Denis Enyukov, costumes by Nika Velegzhaninova.
The audience plunges into the atmosphere of mysticism and fortune-telling already on the way to the Shakhovskaya Hall of the White Column, where the main action takes place. In the smoky twilight of the lobby, before watching the show, everyone can guess luck in the magic circle of cards…
The idea for “Medium” captured Menotti in 1936 after being in the small Austrian town of St. Wolfgang, where friends invited the young composer to visit their home for a séance, during which they communicate with his dead daughter. Dodley (the name is preserved in the opera). And his persuasive power turned out to be enough for Minotti to transform his initial skepticism into a creative idea, appealing not so much to “occult forces” as testifying to the complexity of the human world.
The opera was written in 1945 by order of Columbia University, where the first performance took place on May 8, 1946. The first professional production was presented in February 1947 at the Heckscher Theater in New York.
In “Helikon” the action of the opera, as the composer’s own libretto suggests, takes place in a fortune-telling hall. In the center of the hall there is a huge table with a “secret” door and a crystal ball, where light rays are refracted and reflections wander, creating a mysterious atmosphere. Huge table legs in the form of griffins and the sinister mask of the Gorgon Medusa, which hangs instead of a chandelier, are catching up with fear.
At the head of the table is a throne symbolizing power, on which Madame Flora sits, pretending to be a medium. She knows full well that her sessions on the resurrection of dead children are a cruel hoax to bereaved parents. But she also involves her daughter in this process. She likes to earn money this way, until it’s time to give up.
In the original, the entire collision takes place in a couple of days. According to the version of this production, about ten years elapse between the two acts, going, of course, without intermission. Over the years, the children of Madame Flora – Monica and Toby (little Angelina Sazonova and young Alexandra Sokolova; baby Ivan Novoselov and young adult Nikolai Patsuk) grow up: first love replaces harmless games, and the Madame Flora herself becomes a crazy old woman. woman in rags. And only an impeccable manicure betrays the full range of the theatrical transformation of the beautiful Larisa Kostyuk, who has a spectacular voice and exciting acting energy.
The orchestra, reduced to 16 musicians, and the conductor are hidden behind a curtain. The singers sing without exchanging glances with the director, but only looking at his hands on a huge monitor that sits behind most of the audience and also works on a premonition of something secret. Visually, the music seems to be separate from the acting. However, this decision does not affect the quality of the set.
But singing in Russian, and not in English, as the original requires, noticeably affects the style of general perception. Shows where the symbology of the operatic genre intersects with the realism of everyday life. The opera, of course, ends with a criminal death. Helikon’s performance is no exception.
However, there is a fundamental difference: who and how will become a victim tonight is decided by lottery in the hands of the production team. It turns out a real detective horror: there are accessories, fear, passion and suffering, but only death turns out to be a reality.