May 29, 2017


Diaghilev Festival 2017: beyond the conventional

On May 26 the International Diaghilev Festival 2017 came to an end. This year the large-scale cultural project, erasing the barriers between artist and spectator, tradition and avant-garde, and day and night, was crowned by the international premiere of three one-act ballets to the music of Stravinsky starring Diana Vishneva and Natalia Osipova.

For twelve days Perm became a space dedicated to a round-the-clock marathon of arts which included underwater concerts, amazing promenade-performances, new creations of the academic avant-garde and masterpieces of classical music featuring leading international performers.

This year the Diaghilev Festival comprised 40 hours of live music, 77 events at the Festival Club, 28 masterclasses as part of the educational programme, 6 exhibitions and a striving toward the elimination of any distance between the viewer and the achievements of modern musical theatre. The festival events were held at 11 venues around the city. 14,000 people participated in the 56 events held as part of the main programme. Remote Perm participants have covered a total distance of about 3,000 kilometres over the course of 20 promenade-performances by the German group Rimini Protokoll. More than 21 hours of lectures were held at the Festival Club and almost 250 cups of coffee were consumed by its visitors daily. 

Fans of modern choreography were the first to witness the debut performance of The Decay of the Atom by the Liliya Burdinskaya Dance Company staged at the festival. Anton Batagov's piano cycle WHERE WE ARE NOT. Letters of Mother Seraphima and Alexei Syumak's composition The Stranger premiered at the festival, too. What’s more, for the first time on a Russian stage, Ana Sokolovich's opera Svadba (The Wedding) was staged by Anton Adasinsky.

Morning yoga classes, three children’s programmes, adult masterclasses and discussions of premieres were held on an ongoing basis at the Festival Club. Audiences with Theodor Currentzis, Diana Vishneva, Natalia Osipova, Alisa Khazanova, in addition to lectures given by Alexei Parin, Levon Akopyan, Alexey Syumak, and Q&As with audience participation created the foundations for a deeper understanding of the modern cultural context. Hundreds of people were able to preserve the memory of these action-packed event days thanks to the Instaprinter laid on by festival partner, who also provided free Wi-Fi in Theatre Square throughout the festival’s duration.

The educational programme for the festival included masterclasses hosted by Teodor Currentzis, Vitaliy Polonsky, Alexander Buzlov, Aylen Pritchin and other virtuosi, as well as the world premiere of #Bradburyopera, created by graduates from last year’s programme and the International Academy for Young Composers in Tchaikovsky city. In addition to the musicians from Perm, Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod and Saratov, a range of programme events were open to anyone wishing to participate in them.

Among other festival milestones were the Théros perfume presentation and six exhibitions: Equation in Two Unknowns, élévation, ZZZ/Zapahi Zvuki Zavody (Scents Sounds Plants), Perm Cycle, Parade—100, Commentary on a Musical Composition. All exhibitions, save for the last, will continue to run after the end of the festival.

Occupying a special place in the festival programme is the Resonance Award — a prize, celebrating the achievements of young critics writing about musical theatre and academic music.

 The winners in the "The Best Critical Text" category:

  • 1st Prize —  Alexander Ryabin, for the text "By Morton's Canvas";
  • 2nd Prize — Anton Svetlichniy, for the text "How to Do Things with Music. Part 2";
  • 3rd Prize —  Anton Svetlichniy, for the text "Shostakovich Now";
  • "The Fourth Medal" special award was awarded to Polina Dorozhkova, for the text "Couplets about an Intendant".

Additional performances of Stravinsky's ballets will take place immediately after the close of the festival, on May 26 (with Diana Vishneva), May 27 and 28. The three new ballet productions will remain in the repertoire of the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre.

"Whereas before the Diaghilev Festival drew people in owing to the fact it was possible to encounter practically everyone they knew and loved all in one place, now, perhaps, its allure lies in the prospect of discovering something really great you hadn’t heard of or come across before".

"The international orchestra, showcasing the crème de la crème of bows, canes, mouthpieces and batons that the likes of Perm, Russia and Europe have to offer, played Mahler's masterpiece in such a way that all four parts of it turned out to be simultaneously the finest chamber music and a demonstration of pompous grandeur".

"This year, the Diaghilev Festival has managed to fill a longstanding-void in the city art forum, orientated toward the largest possible audience. Elitism, which characterized the first festivals of the Currentzis era, has given way to audience participation and education. An example of a consistent and conscious cultural policy — something altogether unique within the context of contemporary Russian realities — today the Diaghilev Festival appears to be the most humanistic of all domestic festivals:  while not succumbing to populism, it succeeds in engaging those of various ages and social backgrounds in a dialogue on equal footing".

Next year, the Diaghilev Festival will be held from June 14 to 24. Various details on the grand art marathon have already been finalized and are due to be made available to the public in the near future.


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