94-2.jpg (170638 bytes) Kyiv Opera and Ballet   Theatre

"The Sleeping Beauty, as performed by the Kyiv Ballet company is truly a great ballet. The performance was amazing and really beautiful. In fact it is ine of the best ballet performances Spain has been in the past twenty years."
In these words the prominent Spanish ballet critic Roger Salas expressed in El Pais newspaper his impressions of the ballet troupe of the National Opera of Ukraine and its orchestra.
The Kyiv Ballet company gave its performances in Madrid in the heat of the summer which did not prevent the public from filling the theatre to capacity. The Kyiv Ballet played to full houses all the six weeks of its stay in Madrid. The Spanish audiences, reputedly of hot temperament, turned out to be very receptive to the sentimental and romantic art of the Ukrainian ballet dancers.

The Kyiv ballet troupe performed the famous Tchaikovsky's ballets Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella. El Pais was of the opinion that the Kyiv Ballet's presentation of The Sleeping Beauty was better than that of the British Royal Ballet and of the Paris Opera. Even the superiority of the August Bolshoi Theatre, the sanctuary at which the fame of the world-famous Russian school of ballet was piously preserved, did not seem, in the assessment of the Spanish ballet critics, to remain unchallenged any longer.

The success in Madrid was not accidental or exceptional. The audiences in Japan, Germany, France, Switzerland, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Austria
and Holland applauded the ballet dancers from Kyiv on their tours of these countries in recent years. Not everywhere the reception was as enthusiastic as in Spain, like for example, in Japan, but the Japanese people express their feelings in a much more restrained manner than the Spanish.

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P. Tchaikovsky. Swan Lake. Hanna Kushnirova - Odilia;
Artem Datsyshyn - Sigfried.
Photo: Courtesy of the Theatre Archives.
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S.Prokofiev. Romeo and Juliet.
Oleh Tokar - Capuletti;
Dmytro Klyavin - Tibald.

Photo: Courtesy of the Theatre Archives.
In the past several decades the Ukrainian ballet has achieved a high level of perfection. Vaslav Nijinsky and Serge Lifar, great ballet dancers of world renown, originally hailed from Kyiv, In 1994 an international ballet contest, named after Lifar, was organized in Kyiv and it has become an annual feature of Kyiv's cultural life.

Ukrainian ballet dancers are to be found performing now in many ballet companies of the world, lryna Dvorovenko and Maxym Bilotserkivsky are leading ballet dancers of the IBT troupe of the Metropolitan Opera on the stage of which Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nuriev and Nataha Makarova danced in their time. Kostyantyn Kostyukov is a soloist of both Kyiv and Belgrade Opera and Ballet Theatres. Vadym Pysarev of the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, was recognized as one of the best ballet dancers in Europe in 1996. Tetyana Borovyk, Olena Filipyeva, Hanna Kushnirova, Natalya Kalinichenko, Mykola Pryadchenko performed on many stages of the world. Young dancers Natalya Lazebnikova, Denis Matviyenko, Alina Kozhokaru, Tetyana Holyakova, Artem Datsyshyn have won ballet contests held in Luxembourg and Budapest in recent years.

Ukrainian opera singers have also known their measure of success.

96-1.jpg (152674 bytes)Victoriya Lukyanets sings at the Vienna Opera, one of the most highly regarded operas in the world. Her Violetta from Verdi's Traviata is a romantic Ukrainian interpretation of the French beauty. At the turn of the century Solomiya Krushelnytska, a great opera singer from Ukraine, charmed European audiences and this tradition has been picked up and continued by new generations of Ukrainian opera singers. Anatoly Kocherha also sings in Vienna. The tenor Volodymyr Hryshko sang in the Metropolitan Opera in New York last year. Olga Mykytenko is a young singer who graduated from Kyiv Musical conservatory only last year but her Gilda from Verdi's Rigoletto is believed to be the best interpretation of this part in many years. She has already won contest in Barcelona and Athens where she was awarded Grand Prix.

Svetiana Dobronravova (with her incomparable Aida) and Mykhailo Didyk (with his Duke in Rigoletto) performed in many countries of Europe. National Opera The first opera troupe performed in Kyiv in 1803. In 1823 the Ukrainian language, which was considered at the time to be suitable only for the uneducated talk of the lower classes, was used for the first time in an opera performance. The first permanent repertory troupe was brought together in 1867 after the first Opera House had been built. A number of prominent singers performed at the stage of Kyiv Opera House, among them Fedir Stravinsky, father of lgor Stravinsky, Nadiya Zabila-Vrubel, wife of the Russian painter Vrubel. Petr Tchaikovsky insisted on his operas and ballets being performed in Kyiv, as he regarded "the Kyiv stage to be on the par with those of St. Petersburg and Moscow."

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G.Verdi. Rigoletto. Roman Maiboroda - Rigoletto;
Mykhailo Didyk - Duke.

Photo: Courtesy of the Theatre Archives.
A big fire destroyed the old Opera House and a new one was built in 1901. An impressive number of dazzling singers performed at its stage: Mattia Batistani, Maria Galvani, Lina Cavallieri, Titta Ruffo, Regina Pinkert, Leonid Sobinov, Fedor Shalyapin. In the Soviet times, in spite of the almost complete physical destruction of Ukrainian intellectuals, the Kyiv Opera managed to retain its Ukrainian traditions. In 1939 it was named after Taras Shevehenko, the leading Ukrainian cultural figure of the 19th century. When the World War II broke out, the troupe of the Opera House was evacuated to the Russian city of Ufa in the east of the country. In the sixties and seventies the Kyiv Opera and Ballet Theatre rose to prominence and stood out, together with the Moscow Bolshoi and Leningrad Kirov Theatre (now St.Petersburg's Manin Theatre) as a leading opera house in the Soviet Union.
In 1964 the Kyiv Ballet troupe received the highest award from the French Academy of Dance. Irayida Lukashova and Valery Parsehov won the Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky prizes and it was Serge Lifar, the Head of the Academy of Dance, who handed the awards to the Ukrainian dancers himself. Today there are 34 operas and 24 ballets on the repertory of the Kyiv Opera and Ballet theatre which makes it one of the biggest repertories in the world. The greatest world operas and ballets are performed: six operas by Verdi; three operas by Puccini; operas by Tchaikovsky, Musorgski, Lysenko, Hulak-Artemovsky, Verykivsky, Lyatoshynsky, Rachmaninoff, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Rossini, Gounod, Donizetti, Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Mozart, Wagner. The Ballet Company of the Theatre performs ballets to the music of Skorulsky, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, Minkus, Adan, Ravel, Bizet, Prokofiev, Khachaturyan, Stankovich. In 1971 the Kyiv Ballet's performance of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet was recognized by UNESCO as the best interpretation of Prokofiev's ballet.

The Kyiv Opera and Ballet House keep up the old traditions and achieve new perfection.

Andriy SHESTAKOV Photos by Yuri BUSLENKO
K. Dankevych. Bohdan Khmelnytsky. 1951.
M. Lytvynenko-Volhemut  - Varvara; M. Hryshko -Bohdan.

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K.Dankevych. Bohdan Khmelnytsky. 1951.
Varvara, M.Hryshko - Bohdan.

Photo: Courtesy of the Theatre Archives.

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