Question and Answer Session, with Oleg Vinogradov
Question 1, from The Weekly Standard
Oleg Vinogradov responds: I love being in Russia now and lots of things have changed. I am very involved in the art of ballet and know all about the new operas & modern musical theater productions. Personally I cannot attend Pytor Tchaikovsky’s opera Iolanta because it’s a story that is now set in a concentration camp and the King of France wears and performs in a Nazi uniform. This is part of the western school that was brought to Russia recently but it’s a democracy so these types of shows can be presented.
Pictured here: Oleg Vinogradov's beautiful staging of the classic Romeo and Juliet
I said once that Czars and Communists are better for ballet than democracy because the peak of the development of and the life of classical ballet was during the time of the Czars and Communists. They didn’t understand anything about the ballet, but appreciated its beauty. So when I was Artistic Director at the Kirov, I never had to think about money. We were always funded to do whatever we wanted to do. Today, in democracy, Artistic Directors have to search for funding and sponsors. This is in part why there are only 10 ballet companies still in Russia... C'est la vie.
Oleg Vinogradov responds: It depends on which type of ballet…if it is a good show, a good story and high quality 3D then I would would support any technologies that would develop public interest in ballet and classical art. The book I wrote four years ago about my life, career, and work process, has more detail about my views on the next steps for ballet and the classical arts. It is only available now in Russia—it sold out in America.
Pictured left: Sketch by Oleg Vinogradov for Knight in Tiger Skin
Question 3, from Ballet Reviewer George Jackson
Oleg Vinogradov responds: Thirty years ago, when I was in Berlin, a competition was announced to create a new story ballet for Sleeping Beauty. I wrote one based on the classic fairy tale, but it was still different and I sent it to the competition. Surprisingly they liked it and it won. I wanted to tell the same tale but about a modern kingdom and its characters. I was invited to stage it to Tchaikovsky’s music but I declined because I didn’t think it would be good. After 25 years, I came back to the idea and at the time was involved in work with modern composer Alexander Tchaikovsky.
Pictured here: A scene from Battleship Potemkin
Alexander is a wonderful composer who has won prizes in American competitions, and when I heard his music I wanted to work with him to create Battleship Potemkin on the Mariinsky/Kirov stage in 1986. Later he composed music for a ballet based on a story of the 19th century writer Nikolai Gogol. He also arranged music for a ballet set to Grieg’s music for In the Hall of the Mountain King. Alexander also agreed to create the music for new Sleeping Beauty and right now, the ballet has been accepted for the staging in Stanislavsky Theater in Moscow.
In 2011 and 2012, Moscow Ballet has sponsored a fine art contest focusing on ballet-inspired contemporary work with Oleg Vinogradov and the St. Petersburg (Russia) State Conservatory.
Pictured, left to right: Moscow Ballet Associate Producer Dan Talmi, Nataliya Yablakova of the St. Petersburg State Conservatory, and Oleg Vinogradov at the Conservatory in 2010.
Vinogradov is one of the three judges and six artists (three each year) who have won awards of cash prizes. Moscow Ballet highlights their art to North Americans through the annual Great Russian Nutcracker tours to 70 cities.