TITUS THE PERFECTMoscow Chamber Opera Theatre
Участник программы «Russian Case» Фестиваля 2016 года
Director - Vladimir Mirsoev
It is not very often that the Russian Case programme presents opera productions. But TITUS THE PERFECT is a very special case: theatre director Vladimir Mirzoev stages a futuristic opera at the Chamber Opera Theatre that is famous for innovative experimental productions. The opera is composed by Alexander Manotskov and the libretto written by Maxim Kurochkin, one of the best Russian playwrights, whose plays are still underestimated by drama theatres. Kurochkin describes the world by way of parody and anti-utopia in the genre of fantasy. The opportunities for stylization in opera allow the realization of these artistic ideas. The world of the future is presented as postmodern chaos, a jumble of epochs, styles, absurd colors and forms. TITUS THE PERFECT is one part of Kurochkin’s trilogy in which the playwright attempts to create the image of a world without violence (THE POOR IN SPACE), without sex (BENTO BONCHEV`S СLASS) and without culture. TITUS THE PERFECT is the last part of the triptych about a comeback of culture when the technogenic world realizes the necessity to create a complex man capable of doubts and insight, who steps beyond the boundaries of norms.
From the point of view of playwriting TITYOS is a carte blanche for any taste. It is a drama about the state and – at the same time - a new version of a space odyssey, spiced up with black humour, so to say. Or a thriller in the spirit of KILL BILL: although Kurochkin has left only five out of 14 murders present in the original, he is not lacking sophisticated inventiveness. Take, for instance, the scene where Tityos’ wife Pork, upon her husband’s orders, pretends to be a jester and laughs at her very own son, who has blinded himself. While making an opera out of the play, Manotskov’s and Mirsoev’s principle was apparently “do no harm”. Right from the first bar-notes it becomes clear: the leading role belongs to the text. As for music, which is not heard here often (the whole first act is limited mostly to noises and crackling of space objects), it is used only illustratively.
TITYOS THE PERFECT is a unique occasion, when an opera was born not thanks to a composer, librettist, critic or producer, but to a theatre director. It was Mirsoev’s idea to stage Kurochkin’s play, and he saw that the text was not for a straight play, that an opera suggested itself. Mirsoev created a libretto, obtained the support of Chamber Music Theatre and commissioned the music to Manotskov.
The irony in the production is too well-aimed to remain kind; the characters are too recognizable to depict gods and heroes for us. TITYOS is an elegant sarcastic anti-utopia with a tragic note and, at the same time, a very up-to-date piece treating the topic of the state, society and art, written, interestingly enough, in 2012, before all the events which made this topic so acute. We are somewhere in the future. The intergalactic regime is troubled with its very own survival. Having noticed signs of free thinking in one citizen, the regime makes him go to the theatre – let him be educated, maybe with his help the art will truly save the world. The greater part of the production is an ancient (from the point of the future) opera about idiotic impeccability, bloody twists and turns and intricate love, everything exactly as it should be. At some point of time we forget that the main character is watching the opera, just like us. In the final the leaders enthusiastically question him to say what he has understood (just like a military leader would ask his squadron after a trip to the theatre). Classic silence will be the answer. And tenderly rumbling intergalactic noise.
The play TITYOS THE PERFECT - a furious, sophisticated, ingenious reply of playwright Maxim Kurochkin to Shakespeare and the world – was written upon the commission of Royal Court Theatre in 2012, long before today, when the relationship of culture and the state is so widely discussed. Kurochkin took the bloodiest play by the English Bard TITUS ANDRONICUS for this dialogue. Everyone liked the play, it was read and staged in many theatres. Yet apparently only Vladimir Mirsoev succeeded in discovering the ideal genre for it – that of an opera.