Where’s Gergiev?

Where’s Gergiev?


norman lebrecht

August 05, 2019

Conducting Parsifal in Vladivostok this week, in a production directed by the British biopic maker Tony Palmer (a Life of Gergiev cannot be far behind).

Gergiev is due back in Bayreuth for Tannhäuser next Tuesday.


  • 8VA says:

    Residents of the Russian Far East are just as entitled to hear Parsifal as the good burghers of Bavaria. For many years, until Gergiev’s inititative, there was no such opportinity for them., I am sure it will be a magnificent opportunity, and we wish the project well.

    • musician says:

      I think (I may be wrong) it was Gergiev who first brought Wagner’s operas to Russia. So though the critics may have been harsh, I heard a fantastic Parsifal at the Staatsoper (conduted by Gergiev – on time and in tune) recently and the audience of the Far East are lucky to have such an opportunity too.

      • Silversled says:

        Lohengrin was in the repertory of the Mariinsky even in Soviet times, well before Gergiev’s rise to prominence.

    • Edgar says:

      Sure. Just don’t do a Bayreuth Tannhäuser on the side.

  • erich says:

    …and when, please, is he going to rehearse Boccanegra in Salzburg????

    • M2N2K says:

      All this rehearsing business is highly overrated. Especially with Gergiev.

    • He’s probably in Salzburg now. There was only one Parsifal in Vladivostok, on Saturday, in a Palmer staging that is 22 years old. He has his nerve alternating Tannhäuser in Bayreuth with Simon Boccanegra in Salzburg, plus concerts in Ljubljana, Luzern, La Côte-Saint-André, Turku and Grafenegg — all within this month. But the pattern is hardly new. It’s just more proof of shallowness.

    • batonbaton says:

      I thought it was the conductor’s assistant who rehearsed things, he is either still waiting at check-in, in mid-air, or at baggage reclaim, en-route from his last crap performance elsewhere the night before.

      • Anon says:

        When he was at the LSO, the band used to sit in silence awaiting his arrival. Example – a two o’clock rehearsal, Maestro Gergiev would turn up at four o’clock. This continued during his tenue. No assistant conductor. Total lack of respect for the musicians.

  • Michel says:

    I wonder how he managed to do all this. I think he will die on stage like Molière.

  • emanuele says:

    The zero-rehearsals man… and when is he going to finish the Shostakovich cycle with the Mariinsky Orchestra he started long ago on the orchestra’s label??? It’s just missing a couple of works, almost there. Please! We don’t need more Bruckner, Mahler…finish what you start.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Last week he was in Japan.

  • sam says:

    Everyone blames Gergiev, but that’s an elitist connoisseur’s luxury. I have attended 3 Ring cycles (including a naked Die Walkure, and a gay Siegfried), so I’m ready for weird shit but that still tells the basic story, and I just simply don’t know Tannhauser, so I’d like to get to know it.

    So, it’d be nice if I could just watch and enjoy the telecast of Gergiev’s performance (available on youtube, thank you youtubers!) and at least get the basic plot of the opera.

    No, instead I get a black drag queen, a dwarf, in a van, on a road trip, going through Burger Kings drive thru (are they a sponsor of Bayreuth?), and I’m sorry, even for me, it’s one big WTF??? WTF is this opera about?

    And people wonder why opera loses audience. Even me, I’m a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I still don’t get that BayreuthTannhauser.

    The biggest obstacle to opera is not whether the conductor under-rehearsed or not, it’s if the production team delivered a comprehensible story.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      Many many recommends. Always thought it was a mistake not setting up places where opera directors could be exiled.

    • Tamino says:

      The backstage opera insiders are so self absorbed and narcissistic, they simply do not think outside their box, that the majority of audiences have NOT seen each mainstream opera several times already, and are now in need of reinterpretations or persiflage.
      That circle basically does productions for each other only, in an unholy alliance with the critics, who are just as bored by their object of professional focus.
      The audiences are simply ignored, best case, or taken hostage on someone‘s very difficult childhood, worst case.

      • Ms.Melody says:

        Thank G-d for classic Otto Schenk’s Tannhauser well preserved on DVD. The modern opera productions usually require 10 pages of notes to explain the weirdness that goes on .They do not make sense on their own and are the reflection of director’s inner anguish and anxiety,best case, or perversion, worst case

        • Edgar says:

          Indeed. I find myself thinking: “Gosh, I need a doctorate (in whatever) to grasp the intent of the director” – as experienced in 2011 during Stefan Herheim’s “Rusalka” at the Dresden State Opera. I have developed the habit of carrying eye shades with me when attending opera…. Or close my eyes. Or get myself a “Hörerplatz”, where I can hear everything, and see nothing.

      • Novagerio says:

        The so called backstage insiders happen to be those who know the job and how it’s supposed to be done. And I’m sure they wouldn’t call the audience certain annoying adjectives…

  • Escamillo says:

    The best part of Tony Palmer’s ‘Wagner’ was the scenery. Richard Burton was a weird caricature, and Olivier, Gielgud and Richardson just pulled funny faces and rolled their eyes – hilarious!

  • Paul Brownsey says:

    Tony Palmer staged Turandot for Scottish Opera in 1984 as an episode in the life of Puccini, involving Puccini’s wife accusing him of having an affaire with the maid. When the Ice Princess melted, Calaf spurned her and the curtain came down on Calaf cradling the dead body of Liu.

    • jamesay says:

      That was the staged ending – the covers then stepped in and sang the Ricordi score like a concert in front of the curtain. (The Ricordi contract states the entire score MUST be sung from beginning to end) so Scottish Opera gave permission to Palmer to stop his staging where Puccini left off rather than stage the Alfano ending. Scottish Opera allowed cameras to “help” Palmer make a documentary on his “theory” about the alleged relationship Puccini had with his maid, and got well and truly stitched up! Foolish management (its never been smart to this day). I think I’m right in saying that Margaret Marshall withdrew from the somewhat controversial staging and the entire episode became a fiasco in the company’s history, and on the night with audience howling and boo-ing. Nothing of course as shocking as one witnesses today!

      • Paul Brownsey says:

        Yes, I didn’t mention the concert performance of the Ricordi ending. We left before it began, having been p***ed off by the staged performance.

        I didn’t know Margaret Marshall withdrew. The title role of Puccini’s wife (!) was sung by Ludmilla Andrew; I can’t remember who the Liu was. If you are right about Marshall withdrawing, I wonder whether this was the end of her appearances with Scottish Opera. In the late 70s/early 80s she appeared in a number of roles with them: Eurydice, I think; Figaro Countess; Fiordiligi; Capriccio Countess. I don’t recall her in anything after 1984.

        Scottish Opera may have been sensitive to the response because in the 1980s they advertised an Aida which, they said in the brochure, would NOT be (this was not the brochure’s phrase) mucked around with; I think it promised that that Aida would not be portrayed as a Philippino maid with a hostess trolley but that we would be given a traditional production. In the event, they DID muck it about: the grand march was staged only with a view of a modern-day crowd with modern appurtenances such as (I think) polythene picnic boxes; and the march itself was played by a seated circle of cool dudes in what looked like leathers and dark sunglasses onstage. I seem to remember complaining that the brochure had been misleading and getting my money back.

  • Jack says:

    You’d think he’d have time for a Ring in there somewhere.

  • Edgar says:

    If he is not in a score, he’s on a plane.

  • miles away says:

    Nothing would ever prepare me for the shambles I saw with Gergiev attempting to rehearse his orchestra last minute, then starting the concert 1 hour late.

    It opened my eyes to the immense pile of corruption that follows him and his mates around, even extending to the POS concert hall they had made for them in SPB, claiming of course it was brilliant.
    Sadly other Musin pupils are just as bad, play the PR like Mandelson on steroids and then assume sunshine shines out their A, while making simply ugly or foul sounding quasi interpretations with ZERO respect for either the audiences nor the scores.
    (Correntzis for instance!)