||Taking as a libretto
four scenes featuring OPHELIA in Shakespeare´s "HAMLET", sung in the English
original, it brings to life family conflicts, the clash between the
absurd and the "normal" and the passion of unrequited and
rejected love that run through everyday existence, be it Elsinore
or anywhere else in the world.
Ophelia´s songs are beautifully scored...The production
brought out firmly the depth of the tragedy and gave the impression
that the Ophelia story can
stand alone from the main text of the Prince of Denmark."
"Ophelia is a delightful, if distinctly eclectic,
rendition of "Hamlet's" heroine, which has her belting out
her Hey nonny nonnys and Papa Polonius bopping his show-stopper, "To
Thine Own Self Be True."
Alan Levy, International Herald Tribune
"Ophelia is an exiting entertainment...
It achieves what Leonard Bernstein once set as an artistic goal, a
series of virtuoso musical
sequences in voice - more intimate than conventional opera, more sophisticated
than most Broadway commercial products."
BBC, A new Soviet popular opera
"An exciting, multilayered and homogenous
work, despite the multiplicity of its musical languages..."
Der Standard, Vienna
"Those who believe that musical belongs
to the Americans or the British, must revise their opinion: Ophelia
comes from the USSR and beats
the Western commercial products a la Lloyd Webber by miles... The work
stands on its own, is original, even fascinating...The dream of American
composer Leonard Bernstein of an opera on the basis of a musical is realised:
by Sergei Dreznin, a Soviet composer."
Wiener Zeitung, Vienna
Ophelia was created in Moscow in 1982. Sung in English, it never played in
a regular theater, not even a small one off-off Gorky (now Tverskaya) Street
or on the fringe of Russia's metropolis. Instead, in four peripatetic years
in the 1980s, it moved from artists' clubs to Houses of Culture, from students'
dormitories to their institutes. But wherever it went, it delighted, breathing
a fresh, vibrant spirit into harshly lit rooms or a lecture hall dominated
by a bas-relief of Lenin.
Vienna, Moscow, London...
After moving to Vienna in 1987, Sergei was invited to make Ophelia as a fringe
production in the Vienna "scene" club "Roter Engel" ("Red
Angel"). For the main part he chose a young student of the Vienna Conservatory,
Tania Golden (now a fixture of Vienna's best theaters). "Ophelia" indeed
became an important step in her career as a singer and as an actress. So
too for the other cast members: Viktor Gernot, Paul Wimberger, Thomas Frank,
Susi Dengler and Markus Matthews.
Meanwhile changes in Moscow enabled Mikhail Kisliarov,
former student of and assistant to the Bolshoi Theater director Alexander
to produce Ophelia on the stage of Moscow "Opera Modern" in
1991-92. In 1993 Mikhail was invited to repeat his staging with the graduate
students of the Guildford School of Dramatic Art in England.
Soon after moving to Vienna, an American friend from Moscow called from London
and told Sergei that he had met up with record producer Leo Feigin, whose
independent label Leo Records was by then firmly established as a major source
of avantgarde and new music from all over the world, especially the Soviet
Union. Leo had heard Ophelia by chance on the back of another tape sent to
him from the Soviet Union, and he encouraged Sergei to make a record of the
opera. So he went back to Moscow in fall 1987 and made a studio recording,
taping Lena, Anatoly and Arkady. The part of Hamlet on the disc (LR 600)
is performed by an American black singer living in Vienna, Hannibal Means.