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Opera's Next Wave


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Dmitri Tcherniakov
© Pierre-Philippe Hofmann 2012

Dmitri Tcherniakov is an artist whose work is on the edge of the cutting edge. Born in Moscow, Tcherniakov first attracted international attention with his 2001 production of The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh for the Mariinsky, a staging the company brought to the Met during the 2003 Lincoln Center Festival. Kitezh is a fantasy, a story of a city that disappears into the mist when invaders approach; Tcherniakov's bold vision mixed traditional tsarist iconography with contemporary imagery.

Now in his early forties, Tcherniakov has an international career. Scrupulously musical and relentlessly self-critical, he has likened his painstaking preparations for rehearsals to "a ritual sacrifice." His work is never conventional, but it is always surpassingly honest. The 2006 staging of Eugene Onegin Tcherniakov created for the Bolshoi replaced a production that had served the company for more than sixty years; his reimagining of the opera attracted a fair amount of controversy, but the production — now available on video in a 2008 presentation at the Paris Opera — has an eerie, turbulent beauty that gives Tchaikovsky's opera the flavor and feeling of a modern work.

Although Tcherniakov is not above making adjustments to a libretto, his work has an integrity that is mightily persuasive: in his unsettling Dialogues des Carmélites for Munich, only one of the nuns is killed, but Tcherniakov's staging of the opera's last moments has rare spiritual power. In 2013–14, Tcherniakov will make his much-anticipated Met debut with Prince Igor, an ideal vehicle for his gifts. Watch this space for further developments. spacer 

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