Showing posts with label Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Theatre. Show all posts

Monday, 16 April 2012

Oleg Menshikov (Олег Меньшиков)

Last Tuesday I went to the theatre to see my favourite Russian actor, Олег Меньшиков (Oleg Menshikov). It wasn't a play, more of a monologue of him talking about what music has meant to him throughout his life, accompanied by a band playing his favourite pieces. I didn't understand a single word he said, because his usual talking speed seems to be about fifty times that of a normal person, but the music was nice, and it was interesting to see him in person rather than on TV.

I can't think of who the equivalent of Oleg Menshikov is in the UK or US, possibly because I am appalling bad at anything to do with modern life. When I moved back to the UK in 2009 I kept seeing all these headlines about someone called Cheryl Cole, a person I had never previously heard of, and after a month I was so annoyed that I actually had to google her. But it's also possible that no equivalent to Oleg Menshikov exists, and this is because (trying not to sound like a teenage fan here), he is really, really talented. He speaks French and English as well as Russian, he dances, he sings and he plays the guitar and the piano and God knows what else. And when I say he plays the piano, he doesn't just play it a bit, he REALLY plays the piano. I think he must have a clause in every film contract he signs that he gets to play the piano, just to show off how good he is.

One of my favourite of his films is called Восток Запад (East West), in which he stars with another actor called Sergei Bodrov Jr (now sadly deceased). Sergei Bodrov Jr had a PhD in Art History. He wrote his thesis on "Architecture in the Venetian Renaissance Painting". So there are several (well, at least two) super-intelligent and cultured Russian actors. It's people like this that make you feel like a failure as a human being.

Back to the theatre. The female spectators outnumbered the men by about 30:1, and at the end of the performance so many people went up to the front to give him flowers, that he couldn't carry them all, and had to go and put them down and come back on stage and carry on collecting bouquets. He had to do this three times. Three times! That is what you call popularity. But what does he do with all the flowers?

Friday, 23 March 2012

Большой Театр

I have been to the Bolshoi twice recently - once to see Ruslan and Ludmilla, and once to see Boris Godunov. I don't know what it looked like before the restoration, but now it is stunningly beautiful. As the BBC reported at the time, the renovation cost half a billion pounds, and took six years. They cleaned everything using vodka and squirrel tails (huh?), and replaced the frescos and gold leaf. I am not generally a fan of too much gold - I think it can look very heavy and over the top, but the effect in the Bolshoi is not like that - the place is light and sparkling.

The tickets are also a fraction of the price you pay in Covent Garden. The most expensive grade of tickets, barring I suppose what I guess used to be the royal box, cost around £100 if you buy them on the website of the Bolshoi itself (which most foreigners don't - they use tour companies instead and hence pay much more). In Covent Garden you would be paying double that on a normal night. The main problem is getting your hands on tickets, which can sell out months in advance. When the theatre reopened in October last year there was a big fuss made about tickets for the earliest shows, because ticket touters paid homeless people to stand in line all night so they could be the first to get hold of tickets.

So if you are ever in Moscow, I definitely recommend going to see something here. The sets were gorgeous, the music was amazing, and the audience appreciative (well, for Boris Godunov anyway. Ruslan and Ludmilla was a done in a modern setting complete complete with naked people wandering around the stage for no apparent reason, and so was a bit odd). Plus the subtitles are in English, so you can understand what is going on.