We speak to Russian State Ballet and Opera House producer Alexej Ignatow ahead of their ballet triple-bill this autumn.
Following the success of their touring ballet productions, the internationally acclaimed Russian State Ballet and Opera House return to the Belgrade Theatre this autumn with three of history’s most popular ballets.
How do you start your day?
I would like to say I start my day with a nice cup of coffee and reading a recent newspaper, while listening to classical music… but this would be too obvious and not true.
How do I start my day? It’s a difficult one as the start of the day depends on the time of the season. Today, for example, 8 days before the start of our opening season, I woke up at 4am and could not fall back to sleep, so here I am answering questions for an interview. And I am not a morning person at all!
In a more relaxed period, when there is still plenty of time before the start of the tour and we are less worried about last-minute preparations, it would be more steady start to a day having breakfast with family before everyone disappears in different directions.
When we are on tour, then each day and morning is the same. We wake up, have a quick breakfast at the hotel and get on the road to the next theatre.
What’s your favourite ballet and opera?
Here I must admit, I am very conservative and currently enjoy the more mainstream titles. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen Swan Lake and The Nutcracker a million times, or because I’ve heard Puccini’s and Verdi’s masterpieces much more often than others, but they all somehow feel more related to me. I enjoy much more the individual ideas that one production offers as compared with another – the small details one might not see right away, but suddenly understands a bit later.
Do you have much personal involvement in your productions?
As we do work with established Russian State Theatres, we tend to rely on their vision and ideas. Having said that, we still actively participate and get involved in guiding the theatres when it comes to brand new productions. In the UK, where we tour our productions, the audience appreciates and understands the more traditional productions better. Therefore, it’s very important to us that the visiting theatre is in full awareness of this and fully responds to the needs of the UK public.
How did it all begin and what did you learn from the first tour?
It all began in Autumn 2006, when we brought the Russian Cossacks to the UK for the first time. This was a great learning curve. You can never imagine and account for all the things that can happen when you are on tour. The best lesson most likely was to be flexible and be able to quickly adapt to situations!
How long have you been touring the UK and how many productions do you stage every year?
We have been touring the UK now for over 13 years. During this period, we have organised over 25 tours of ballet and opera productions, equating to over 1000 performances.
What makes you excited about classical music?
Classical music is timeless! When performing operas and ballets, it is always exciting to imagine the time when the music was composed, and how it’s still so relevant and enjoyable today. I don’t think people will ever get tired of listening to classical music.
What is your motto while you’re on tour with the cast?
Keep everything simple and ensure that over 80 people for 6-10 weeks live like a large and happy family! My motto in life is: “Whatever is done, is for the better!”