Ice Opera 2013

(April 30 - May 1, Saint Petersburg, Russia)

July 8, 2013
By Olga Kuranova
Photos © Natasha Ponarina

Saint Petersburg is rightfully regarded as one of the world’s music capitals. And when the music comes to life in a beautiful ice show it becomes an unforgettable event for all spectators of such a festival.

On April 30 to May 1, 2013 a new season of Saint Petersburg’s “Ice Opera” began. However, it is difficult or impossible to buy tickets to the show, as the City Administration selects who can go, choosing to give complimentary tickets to veterans, disabled and other guests.

The spectators have already had  the chance to become fond of this colourful show, in which high-level musicians combine their art with the talent of professional figure skaters.

A fabulous two-hour show was performed for the citizens and guests of Saint Petersburg by the Saint Petersburg State Children’s Ice Theater, under the direction of Elena Berezhnaya. Figure skaters of this theater also acted as the hosts of the ice arena during these evenings. Eighty musicians of the Saint Petersburg Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Timur Gorkovenko, took their seats on the stage of Yubileyny Sports Palace. Prize winning singers and soloists who hail from cities around the world performed for the audience. Well, let’s see what’s happening at the ice arena when the curtain is drawn…

Accompanied by the music of Strauss, the ball on ice is beginning. Charming, beautiful ladies and slender hussars played by the figure skaters of the Ice Theatre of Elena Berezhnaya immedeately draw the spectators into the festive atmosphere of beauty and youth. A young Sofia Biryukova and Nikita Mikhailov portray images of a  naive young girl and a gallant hussar to the arias from operas by Mozart and Puccini. In an astonishingly romantic number by Katarina Gerboldt and Alexander Enbert, the airy linen prop turned into a swing in the park flooded with light from the palace windows.

And now at the ball, two people are meeting each other to tell a wonderful love story. It’s the two-time champions of Italy and the winners of the last European Championships, Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek. To the accompaniment of Schubert’s “Ave Maria” they are almost soaring in the clouds covering the whole arena. Stefania admitted that it was her and Ondrej’s first time taking part in a show based on live opera music, and the soloists’ voices made a great impression on them.

Certainly no ball is complete without a reigning beauty. ”Maids, tell your girlfriend that I don’t sleep at nights dreaming of her,” Alexander Trofimov and Oleg Loza were singing from the stage, admiring the performance of the two-time champion of the world and the seven-time champion of Europe Irina Slutskaya. There is no doubt, she is the true reigning beauty!

Next a new story appears on the stage - the story of a couple who is obsessed with the masquerade and almost  loses their true happiness. This story is stirringly and perfectly told by thirteen-time Lithuanian champions, winners of European and World Championships Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas under the music of Khachaturian’s waltz.

"Dance of the Knights" by Prokofiev performed by the skaters from the theatre of Berezhnaya brings us back to the ballroom.  Under the light of the torches the theme of love continues. This time Stefania Berton and Ondrey Hotarek appear as Romeo and Juliet.  It seems as if Shakespeare's words appear in the sounds of their sensual dance.

The show continues on. Despite the fact that Pierrot, played by Nikita Mikhailov, is wearing a sad mask, he is lively and the audience cannot help but appreciate his energy.

Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas perfom for us a story of the difficult relations between men and women. "Habanera" from Bizet's opera Carmen by Alla Petrova is perfectly suited for the image of this temperamental couple.

Three-time European and the world Champion, celebrity and ladies' favorite Brian Joubert appears on ice to the music of the opera "Rigoletto" by Verdi. This role suits the skater perfectly because he has been known and loved by Russian fans for a long time. It’s a pity that he skates to classical music so rarely, because his performance to“Rigoletto" as well as "Seasons” was unforgettable.

The winners of Russian Championship Anastasia Martyusheva and Alexei Rogonov also skated to the music of Verdi. Their brilliant performance to the aria from the opera "La Traviata" is the last dance of the ball.

The show is full of surprises. Not only skaters, but also great musicians appear on the ice. The winner of an Emmy, Hungarian composer and violinist Edvin Marton, brings his priceless Stradivarius violin right to the center of the ice arena. The audience enthusiastically listens to his remarkable skill.

The performance of Olympia’s verses from "Tales of Hoffmann" by Offenbach is a mini-spectacle, which makes the public applaud. Singer Tamara Kotova enchants the audience with the remarkable range and purity of her voice.

The performance of ice acrobat Sergei Yakimenko is very theatrical too. To the “Cavatina” from Rossini's Figaro he impresses the audience not only with a somersault on skates, but also by the art of his transformation. A touching performance of the youngest participants of the show, lead by the talented skater Karina Glushkova, is particularly impressive. She skates to the "Flower Duet" by Delibe.

Folk motifs sound in the show. Spring time festivities to the song of Lola from the opera "Snow Maiden" by Rimsky-Korsakov, in which Victoria Zhukovtsova stars as the Slavic goddess of love, Lada, look unusual above the ice.  The song "Dark Eyes", which became a folk song, is performed by Irina Slutskaya and splashes the energy and passion of a gypsy soul into the hall. The song "Kalinka" is performed by all the soloists and those who are present on the ice.  Suddenly a huge matreshka appears and the audience has nothing to do but sing along and clap for the great masters who made everyone happy throughout the entire evening.

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