Anatolijus Šenderovas: Desdemona

photo: Dmitry Matveyev

Anatolijus Šenderovas will open the Vilnius Festival 2005 with his new ballet, Desdemona, to be premiered at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre on May 22, with Robertas Šervenikas conducting.

"My music continues to live a normal life. Quite a few of my works are in constant demand by various performers from different countries. This is what I value most. If my music is heard, if it receives the attention of performers and the public, it means that they need it and that I can continue my work." Saying this, Šenderovas who celebrates his sixtieth birthday this year exudes confidence in his well-deserved reputation both among the performers popularising his music all over the world, and the listeners enthusiastically confirming his popularity. Anatolijus Šenderovas, a winner of the Lithuanian National Award 1997, recently became the third composer to receive a commission for a stage work from the Vilnius Festival. Thanks to the efforts of this festival aimed at reviving musical theatre that requires huge material and creative investments the two outstanding stage works have enriched the national repertoire – Bronius Kutavičius' opera Lokys (The Bear, 2000) and Mindaugas Urbaitis' ballet Acid City (2002).

In his new work, Anatolijus Šenderovas will tackle the genre of ballet which he had already tried in his two previous stage works – The Maiden and the Death (1982) and Mary Stuart (1987). The production team for this new ballet consists of St. Petersburg-based artists including choreographer Kiril Simonov, set designer Emil Kapeliush and costume designer Stefanija Graurogkaitė. Šenderovas' new ballet, Desdemona, written after William Shakespeare's immortal tragedy is centred on dramatic reflections of the female destiny. "That a 'female' theme runs through all three ballets is a sheer accident. But after all, are genuine feelings and passions, everything that is most beautiful in life, possible without a woman? While writing music for this ballet, I was inspired by the drama's passions, self-abnegating love and sacrifice, on the one hand, and the inability to put faith in great human values, the indulgence in one's ambitions, on the other. As usual in such cases, there's always some Iago to worm in between the two..."

This two-act ballet, however, has no specific narrative. Šenderovas: "In creating music for a ballet, I always stick to the opinion that ballet is not an action in itself but rather an impression aroused by that action. I don't follow the plot, I simply write symphonic music. My music responds to the action of the drama and to the characters that exist in my imagination. I have already 'staged', 'danced', and 'designed' sets for my imagined ballet... It is the same thing as to 'hear' an orchestra for which I am writing."

Anatolijus Šenderovas' music has been successfully performed in more than thirty international festivals in different countries and earned him multiple awards in various international competitions. His award-winning Concerto in Do for cello and symphony orchestra (European Composer's Prize, 2002) will be performed by its dedicatee, David Geringas, and the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra under Shigeo Genda just before the premiere of his new ballet on May 18 at the International Cello Congress in Kobe, Japan. Within one programme it will join such staple pieces of the world cello repertoire as Shostakovich, Dvořák and Elgar cello concerti. Šenderovas, originally a cello player himself, was also invited to participate by playing celesta with the orchestra. Later this year (on August 9) the cello will also feature in the chamber setting of his Trio No. 2 for clarinet, cello and piano to be performed at the Festival Pablo Casals in Prades. To mark the composer's birthday two portrait concerts are slated for December 2005 in Vilnius.

After finishing the ballet, Šenderovas plans to concentrate on the music for the film "Ghetto". Last year he was commissioned by the NordTöne festival to compose music for the theatre production based on the play by the Israeli writer Joshua Sobol (dir. by Ramunė Kudzmanaitė). The soundtrack for the film (dir. by Audrius Juzėnas) promises to be much wider: instead of a 'narrow ghetto lane' for cello and percussion, a broad symphonic tract is currently taking shape in his imagination.

© Živilė Ramoškaitė & Veronika Janatjeva

Lithuanian Music Link No. 10