The Astana Opera will make its U.S. debut Oct. 27 at Carnegie Hall with a special selection of Kazakh folk songs, solos from operas by Kazakh composers, arias from operas by Rossini, Verdi, Bernstein, Offenbach, and Borodin, and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto featuring brilliant young Kazakhstani violinist Erzhan Kulibaev.
The program, entitled Voice of Asia, will be conducted by the new state-of-the-art opera house’s musical director Abzal Mulhitdinov and will feature the Astana Opera Company and the Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir. It was designed to display the orchestra’s virtuoisty and versatility in depicting the life and culture of the Kazakh people.
The first half of the concert will focus on vocal music, including Kazakh composer Erkegali Rakhmadiev’s orchestral scherzo Qudasha Duman, which is traditionally performed during Kazakh wedding ceremonies. Kazakhstan’s foremost tenor Medet Chotabaev will perform an aria from Zhubanov-Khamidi’s Abai, considered the finest Kazakh opera written in the Kazakh language.
Lyric-dramatic soprano Zhupar Gabdullina, the company’s leading soloist, will perform the part of Odabella from Verdi’s opera Attila. Acclaimed baritone Sundet Baygozhin will perform Figaro’s cavatina from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and soprano Aigul Niyazova and mezzo Dina Khamzina will perform the Barcarolle duet from Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann.
Alfiya Karimova will sing Kunigunda’s aria from Bernstein’s Candide in English, and the Astana Opera Choir will perform the traditional spiritual “Elijah Rock.”
This part of the program will also feature such ancient Kazakh folk instruments as the dombyra long-necked lute and qobyz, a bowed instrument held between the legs.
The second half of the concert will offer symphonic music including international Wieniawski Competition winner Kulibaev’s performance of Tchaikovsky.
The Astana Opera House was founded last year in Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana and consists of 136 orchestra musicians, 93 choir performers and a dance ensemble. Its repertoire combines national traditions and world classical masterpieces, and it has already collaborated with the legendary La Scala, Bolshoi and Mariinsky opera houses.
But the upcoming Carnegie Hall performance marks a pinnacle for the young organization.
“Of course, we are working really hard to make the performance really unforgettable,” says Gabdullina.
“It will be my first performance on this stage, in front of such a sophisticated audience. World-famous opera stars perform on this stage, and we will be judged according to our performance and the program we selected. So it’s a very serious and important step in our careers, but I think that they will support our young team with positive energy.”
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