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Review: War and Peace streamed live from Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg to Cineworld Birmingham

Maggie Cotton reviews War and Peace streamed live from Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg to Cineworld Birmingham.

At four hours long, this is a mind-blowing new production of War And Peace, screened live from Russia to cinemas across the UK.

The top class orchestra gave their hearts and splendid skills throughout Prokofiev’s challengingly complicated music. Conductor Valery Gergiev, head in score, fingers twiddling was there on the rostrum to inspire the hordes on stage and in the orchestra.

There were curious static depictions of crowds however, but no mistaking a wonderful Russian chorus in the serried ranks.

Balance was occasionally disturbed by movement of the singers, but even when extra fortissimo inadvertently occurred all vocalists blended harmoniously.

Directed by Birmingham Opera Company's Graham Vick, the audience was hard-pressed to follow the twists and turns of this production with curious anachronisms created from different eras.

There was 18th century evening elegance with gas-masks throughout to jeans and dungarees, soldierly camouflage from all ages – gold medals to khaki, Cossacks, peasants and modern fabrics to feathers and sequins.

However all singing throughout was second to none with heart-rending appeal from superb soprano Aida Garifullina, a fine match for her prince, sung with that rich unique Russian tone by Andrei Bondarenko.

Listeners were drawn into the long tale and agony of war with singers surprisingly appearing from within the audience; interacting with hand shakes and general bonhomie when appropriate.

This full house was curiously nervous of applauding, although eventually plaudits came thick and fast.

www.mariinskyonscreen.com

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