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St John's Revelation Put to Music in Moscow Olympiad

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2001.04.29 AFP: St John s Revelation Put to Music in Moscow Olympiad MOSCOW, Apr 29, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) When one of the world s great stage
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2001
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      2001.04.29 AFP:
      St John's Revelation Put to Music in Moscow Olympiad

      MOSCOW, Apr 29, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) When one of the world's
      great stage directors mounts one of the most resonant texts in world
      literature you would expect something grandiose, and Yury Lyubimov's
      "Apocalypsis", presented Saturday in Moscow's Theater Olympiad, does not
      disappoint.

      "Apocalypsis" is a setting to music by Vladimir Martynov of the Revelation
      of St John the Divine, the Biblical text that has inspired more fears,
      wonders and visions than perhaps any other written work in history.

      Four choirs -- two men's, two boys' -- from Estonia are deployed in the
      production which was premiered in Tallinn two weeks ago and was making its
      Russian premiere in Moscow's St Mary's Roman Catholic church.

      Lyubimov does not attempt to represent the burning mountains, seas of blood
      and other cataclysms with which the Book of Revelations has terrified the
      faithful for nearly 2,000 years, but allows the words and music to achieve
      their incantatory effect.

      Against a simple backdrop of lambskins spread around a central altar, his
      choreography involves the occasional regrouping of the approximately 100
      candle-carrying, black-capped choristers, with variations in lighting to
      heighten the mood.

      The celestial fireworks of the text are rendered by nothing more dramatic
      than a raising or lowering of candles.

      At 84 Lyubimov is working as vigorously as ever, not only acting as
      artistic co-director of the Theater Olympics and International Chekhov
      Festival which are being held jointly but also presenting three works in
      the 10-week festival.

      His recent production "A Theatrical Novel", based on Mikhail Bulgakov's
      diaries, and his Taganka Theater staging of Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin" are
      presented in the Chekhov festival.

      But it is "Apocalypsis", in the International Olympiad section, that is
      currently closest to his heart.

      "It is a project I have been preparing over several years," he said last
      week on Moscow Echo radio. "At one point I had American support for it, but
      they backed out and finally it was the Estonian government that enabled me
      to go ahead."

      He admits that the power of the piece lies more in the words and music than
      in the visuals.

      "That's why I prefer to describe myself as the choreographer rather than
      the director," he told a press conference Friday. "With such spiritual
      music, the main thing is not to get in the way."

      Composer Martynov, who emerged from the 1970s rock scene and has become a
      specialist in ancient and sacred music, willingly agreed.

      The challenge, he said, was "to unite several choral and Christian
      traditions in a way that did not appear merely eclectic but formed a living
      synthesis."

      (c) 2001 Agence France Presse
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