– Mr. Burnett, it is the company’s duty to maintain the ballet in its original form. How are the dancers coping with this task?
– At the moment there is an intensive rehearsal process. I am working with the Principal Dancers on all the little details. Manon is full of subtle but extremely important nuances. The Astana Opera has a strong ballet company. It is lovely to work with people with whom we have previously collaborated, because there is already the rapport that we have built last time I was here. The same dancers as two years ago are in the leading roles. It is great to come back to find them again with a little bit more age and experience. They have a certain maturity in their roles now. When the dancers have already done the part a couple of times onstage, they have lived the role, a little bit, have an experience of it, and thus, can actually start building a real character on top of the work that has been completed.
– Could you give your professional assessment of this particular version of the ballet Manon, which is running at the Astana Opera?
– Patricia Ruanne and I habitually stage this production around the world with different companies. I have very fond memories of the premiere here in Astana. Lady Deborah MacMillan was also very excited and very pleased with the results. Not only with the dancers in the company, but also with the work that went on into making the sets come alive. It is important to note that this is not easy; Nicholas Georgiadis’ production is the trickiest, as well. Everybody did their work at a high level and we had a very good premiere. I am hoping now, when I see the performance on Wednesday, I will have the same sensation.
I would like to note that Lady MacMillan is also very happy that Altynai Asylmuratova has invited me back to come and work on the production and keep it in its original form. I am sure that the performance will be great, I recommend everyone to enjoy this masterpiece of 20th century choreographic art.
– This time you arrived at the height of winter, have you already become accustomed to local climate? Are you comfortable working in the Astana Opera?
– So far so good. This is my first job of the year 2019. It is nice to come somewhere that’s familiar, even though the weather is pretty cold. I made a calculation, but almost every year for the last four years I have started off the year in January in some similar cold place – in Astana, Moscow or in Helsinki. So, I am kind of used to my year starting cold and I don’t mind, I like snow. It is amazing how well catered for this is in Astana: the minute the snow falls, it’s gone. Here people are prepared for it. In Europe, not at all: everything stops, there are no planes, no buses, no trains, if there’s heavy snowfall.
Let us remind that Kenneth MacMillan has created the libretto for the ballet based on the novel by Abbé Prévost L’Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut. Orchestration and Arrangement – Martin Yates. Set and Costume Designer – Nicholas Georgiadis. Staging – Karl Burnett and Patricia Ruanne. Set Coordinator – Cinzia Lo Fazio, Costume Coordinators – Natalia Stewart, Arassel Dosmuratova, Lighting Designer – Jacopo Pantani. The Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra will perform under the baton of the Music Director and Conductor Arman Urazgaliyev.
On January 30, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Aigerim Beketayeva will perform Manon, Des Grieux – Olzhas Tarlanov. Lescaut – Arman Urazov, Lescaut’s Mistress – Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Anel Rustemova. Monsieur GM – Zhanibek Imankulov, Old Gentleman – Ruslan Temirbekov, The Gaoler – Olzhas Makhanbetaliyev, Madame – Altynay Kagazbayeva, Beggar Chief – Beibarys Akarys. Artistic Director of the Astana Opera Ballet Company – People’s Artist of Russia Altynai Asylmuratova.