The opulent Opéra Garnier, built in 1875 and the setting of Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel Phantom of the Opera, is the grander of the two opera houses due to its ornate golden exterior. On the other hand, the very contemporary round shaped Opéra Bastille, which was inaugurated in 1989, may not be quite as palatial but opera fans will appreciate its better acoustics. Both the Opéra Garnier and Opéra Bastille make up the Opéra National de Paris and have an incredibly rich programme throughout the year. This season and for one night only, the Opéra Bastille welcomes one of the few foreign productions to grace its stage.
This Sunday 2nd November, the 180 musicians from the Astana Opera, the National Opera of Kazakhstan, will be completing their world tour in Paris after stops at New York's Carnegie Hall, the Sony Centre in Toronto and the De Dolen of Rotterdam. Headed by two internationally renowned guests, the pianist Denis Matsuev and bass Ildar Abdrazakov, the programme will include concertos from various Rachmaninov works and extracts of Verdi's Attila.
Astana is in fact Kazakhstan's new capital and Sunday's concertos are an opportunity to see one of the world's newest operas (Astana Opera was founded in 2013) from a part of the world most of us are still fairly unfamiliar with. The musicians come from the new capital and Almaty, the old capital, as well as Russia, Uzbekistan and Great Britain. Astana Opera's young artists may not have decades backing them, but they have ability and they certainly have drive – drive and energy that comes with the formation of a new nation after the shedding of a Soviet past.
As a step towards political but also cultural independence, Kazakhstani president Nursultan Nazarbayev played an important role in forming the Astana Opera – apparently an opera house for the capital is also in the works – which is the first step in a long line of events to come.
The Opéra Bastille programme will be two-fold. The first will include a Sergeuï Rachmaninov piano and orchestra concerto number 2 in do minor lead by the brilliant pianist Denis Matsuev and violinist Erzhan Kulibaev as well as oeuvres by Erkegali Rakhmadiev and Manuel de Falla under the direction of chief conductor Abzal Mukhitdinov.
The second part of the opera comprises of extracts of Giuseppe Verdi's Attila interpreted by the world-renowned bass Ildar Abdrazakov. The role of Odabella will be sung by the Astana Opera soloist soprano Zhupar Gabdullina, Ezio will be interpreted by the baritone Alberto Gazale and Foresto by the Italian tenor Massimo Giordano. The maestro will be the Kazakhstani Alan Buribayev.
Video preview of the Astana Opera:
Astana Opera at Opéra Bastille, Place de la Bastille, Paris 75011 on Sunday 2nd November from 6.30pm (2 hours)