From an interview posted by Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts.
Gergiev: I think China develops faster than any other country in the world. It’s a new opera stage.
Q: How do you think co-production will give some positive effects to the opera market both in Russia and China?
A: There is a big interest in the world and in Russia toward China. Anything we do together here resonates in Russia. …I think they will know or maybe they’ve already known that we are now in China. This is for sure. But if we plan a visit of a company from here and perform new Chinese opera, this will be very seriously. Because in general the public doesn’t know many contemporary names, such as composers. Tchaikovsky is still dominant. If the living Chinese composer and newest opera would be brought to St. Petersburg, especially for White Night Festival, this will be a very special and unique event, and it will stand out as something where a lot of curiosity will be demonstrated toward this event because people will see something totally unknown. But we perform new opera in Russia, very recently we performed 7 new operas.
Now we commission as well. So I think it’s a natural process. Mariinsky is an opera company, ballet company, the orchestra and the chorus, and we are playing on three stages. We have a historical building, a new opera house and a new concert hall. So it is possible to compare. NCPA is a complex and Mariinsky is a complex. We have Mariinsky I, Mariinsky II, Mariinsky III, It’s how people know these different venues. And we have 4 chamber music halls. So we have 7 venues. We have more than a thousand performances in one year. So it’s a big operation and of course we can invite Chinese artists, also young artists that they can perform in chamber music halls, not in a big auditorium, but young pianists, young singers, cellists, violinists, young composers, chamber ensembles. There are many many opportunities and we will excise all these opportunities. We are talking now about a whole cooperation.
Q: Besides Onegin, do we have some more other plans?
A: I’m interested in leading composers from China and their plans and new commissioned operas. We perform many contemporary operas. We had performances of the music of Tan Dun and Bright Sheng. But we want new other composers coming from China because I know Tan Dun and Bright Sheng from my experience in the United States. I think we will develop now more intensive exchanges because Mariinsky opened a new opera house. So technically, these houses are easily comparable, technically, with a big stage and big technical power.
Q: Your name is Gergiev whose pronunciation is similar to Jiefu in Chinese, meaning brother-in-law. So Chinese people call you Jiefu and regard you as a family member.
A: I have two sisters. I’m not going to change my name. So if it sounds not too bad in Chinese, I’m very happy. It is true I have two sisters. So I can be called brother-in-law. And I myself have two brothers-in-law.
Q: You always seem in a very serious face. But now you are smiling. We can all see that but we are wondering when you will be particularly happy?
A: I’m happy when I see or hear good performance. Being happy or serious is not two different things. But I can also be happy with a few things. One of them is Mariinsky now is I think reaching, if not the highest but very, very high point of the historical line which already goes 230 years. … And I’m sure that among our most important friends and colleagues, very quickly, NCPA will become one of our most important partners. It only took five or six years; it’s very quick. With Metropolitan, I have worked for nearly 25 years. Five days ago, we were in La Scala. We have worked nearly 25 years together. But here it’s only five or six years; it’s very quick.