RIYADH: The Moscow-based Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra inaugurated the “Russian Culture in Riyadh” festival with a concert featuring opera stars and music conducted by Felix Korobov.
The event was held at the King Fahd Cultural Center on Monday. The Saudi Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), organized performances, exhibitions and movie screenings to celebrate Russian culture and ties between the two countries.
The Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, established in 1930, was founded as the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra and has played all over the world.
Soprano Aida Garifullina and bass Ildar Abdrazakov took to the stage in Riyadh in what was an exciting night for many first-time opera goers, with music from famed composers Mikhail Glinka and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
The concert began with excerpts from Glinka’s “Ruslan and Lyudmila” and, as the night went on, there were performances of “Tsaritsa of Shemakha” from the opera “The Golden Cockerel” by Rimsky-Korsakov, and “Song of the Varangian Guest” also from the Rimsky-Korsakov-composed opera “Sadko.”
“It was moving, beyond all expectations,” 24 year-old private sector worker Mohammed Al-Dossari told Arab News. “I heard about the magnificence of Russian opera and the symphony (orchestra) but to have it come to our doorstep is exciting. The music takes you to another place, it’s calming and yet moving at the same time, a heady combination.”
Saudi and Russian guests and dignitaries enjoyed more than an hour of spectacular performances, with people cheering at the end of the show.
The celebration of Russian culture also features the work of Vasily Kandinsky, who is widely acknowledged as one of the fathers of abstract art and whose paintings are exhibited in the world’s top museums and galleries. The artwork is from St. Petersburg’s State Russian Museum.
Another exhibition, “Artificial Intelligence and Intercultural Dialogue,” showcases the works of 14 artists from 10 countries that explore the artistic possibilities of artificial intelligence.
“Russian Culture in Riyadh” will also feature a Russian Cinema Week, beginning Tuesday, screening 10 classic, animated and modern Russian films selected specifically for a Saudi audience.