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Sunday, January 11, 2015

In Context: The Enchanted Wanderer

The Enchanted Wanderer, part of the Mariinsky at BAM, comes to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House on Wednesday, January 14. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Program Notes


The Mariinsky Theatre
Take a virtual tour of the famous concert hall, read about the theater's history, and more.

The Mariinsky Label
Read about the the Mariinsky Theatre's USA tour on their blog.

The Mariinsky at BAM (BAM Blog)
Read more about the other productions coming to BAM during the Mariinsky Theatre's two-week residency.

The Arts Desk Q&A: Rodion Shchedrin (
Shchedrin reminisces over his relationship with Shostakovich, his career, and more.

Chekhov's Less Famous Master (
Nikolai Leskov wrote the novella on which Shchedrin's opera is based.

Look & Listen

Mariinsky in the USA (Spotify)
Sample excerpts from The Enchanted Wanderer, Swan Lake, Cinderella, works by Shostakovich, and more in this playlist featuring the Mariinsky Orchestra and Opera.

Mariinsky Orchestra’s recording of Shchedrin's The Enchanted Wanderer (iTunes)
With Sergei Aleksashkin, Kristina Kapustinskaya & Evgeny Akimov. Valery Gergiev conducts.

Shchedrin the Pianist (YouTube)
Shchedrin performs his diabolical work for solo piano "Basso Ostinato."

Maya Plisetskaya in Don Quixote (YouTube)
Shchedrin married the famous ballerina just a year before this video was shot.

Backstage at the Mariinsky Theatre (The Telegraph)
Dancer Viktoria Tereshkina shows off her dressing room while Sarah Crompton explores where the backdrops are painted.

Backlit Onyx interiors, 10 floors, and a perfect view from every seat: explore the Mariinsky's $750-million new home.

Now your turn...

So how did you enjoy the show? Likes? Dislikes? Surprises? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below.


  1. This may be the worst 'opera' I have ever seen. Sorry Mariinsky - you are a world class outfit and have done amazing things in the past. Why anyone would decide to stage this inert libretto about religious fanaticism and murder is beyond me. And why would a contemporary composer choose this subject? Certainly musical inspiration was not the reason. When it wasn't deadly dull or repellent, it was laughable. At times I was reminded of the hilariously pretentious production of Oedipus in the movie The Bandwagon. We knew we were in trouble when the synopsis contained this howler: "Ivan is reminiscing about former days. Before renouncing the material world, he once accidentally whipped a monk to death" . This, of course, was before he threw the gypsy Grusha off a cliff to save his soul. Huh?

    1. I agree with Mr. Sonne completely. In addition to a plot which makes no sense, the music is deadly dull. One hour and forty minutes of melismatic recit. without two bars of melody. The singing was brilliant, but what was sung was not. Even the scenery often got in the way of the performers. This opera would have been more effective as a concert performance--the audience would not have had to look at a failed attempt to bring to life a pathetic libretto and the Mariinsky would have saved itself a lot of money on sets and costumes.

    2. I haven't seen a concert performance of this work (although I guess it was originally performed that way), but I actually felt like the sets and costumes added to, rather than detracted from, the performance, giving the whole thing a dreamlike quality.

  2. If we had been sitting on the aisle we would have left. Voices were wonderful but book was duller than dull

  3. This was just horrendously bad. What a lost opportunity for this company to come so far and then choose to present such a worthless piece of music!!

  4. Slow-paced until you wish it would just die,. Uninteresting music, especially the instrumental score. A tired story, shallow, where the characters "grand gestures" and "deep emotions" found no support or justification in the narrative or in their characters. Amazed that somebody spent what must have been a lot of money to stage this thing.

  5. Beautiful music, beautiful voices. I enjoyed it very much and am glad I went. I've never seen anything quite like it. The slowness and quietude were two things I found beautiful about it. Honestly, I found it haunting.

  6. Absolutely gorgeous and very subtle piece of music, although unconventional. The orchestra was just terrific.
    However, everything else about the experience was awful. BAM needs to train its ushers urgently. I sat in the last row on the balcony, and ushers behind me talked and kept moving around incessantly. Someone who stood right behind our row (how can this happen?) kept ruffling with her jacket and then completely ignored when I and a few others from the audience turned to her, signaling to be quiet. Then, a lady with multiple bracelets started swinging her hands around (and taking her shoes off, yes), completely oblivious to the ringing noises her bracelets made. She kept doing it throughout the entire piece. Then, someone whipped out a phone and began texting. When a neighbor complained, the texter argued, angrily and loudly. The ushers didn't find any of this problematic or worthy of reaction. Instead, one of them came to me in the middle of the piece to tell me that my jacket (which I held on my lap) was spilling outside of my virtual space onto the aisle, and that I should "keep it in."
    Despite all this incompetence, BAM charges Met prices ($45 for the last row of the balcony). It should either shape up so that the experiences are comparable, or lower ticket prices - can't have it both ways.

  7. Possibly the worst thing I have ever seen. Performers were good and are not to be blamed. The problem is the work itself. BAM referred to it as a "rarely performed treasure" in advertisements. Huh? I was embarrassed to have invited people to it. BAM should give refunds.

  8. I considered my self lucky at the end of the show. I wasn't burned to death
    trapped in the narrow isles of this 19th Century artifact, nor stomped to
    shreds trying to make my way up the down staircase against the hoards of
    people exiting at the end of the performance while I tried to reach the
    Men's bathroom.
    Why not have 2 sex bathrooms at both ends?
    Has the Brooklyn fire and rescue services looked at the BAM theaters? They
    are a public safety menace.
    This is the last time I risk the safety of family by attending BAM.
    Perhaps providing emergency training to the usher staff might save some
    customers while preventing larger casualty numbers during a fire or chaotic
    Ed Krowitz

  9. I do not like trashing anything BAM does as I feel such loyalty to the organization, so I am glad that others have done this for me. When I know there were 44 chorus members (so bored counted them twice) and heard so little from them, well, it was so unfortunate as others have noted: to have the talent wasted not to mention my time and money (this was a very expensive ticket for us).

  10. It felt as though the director borrowed from tired, old 1970s sound and movement theatre concepts - excruciating. It's a shame that the singers were so ill-served by the staging.

  11. And as to bad audience behaviors - a friend recently saw a B'way show where the ushers were pro-actively monitoring cell phones and other devices. Those that engaged were told to turn it off or leave.

  12. i agree and disagree with some comments. It is a slow developing story but we are not in a fast food store. Music is not modern modern but pleasant, has twists, color, palate and some Russian melodies that always touch me. Staging is adequate meaning that it helps to follow the story and presents some visually impressive elements. Grusha/Kristina was wonderful. Actually she made this show. The orchestra was good. I truly enjoyed the opera together with my friends.


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