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  Thursday, October 22, 2020
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Today, the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg opens its 222nd season with Mikhail Glinka's opera
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrates his 52nd birthday. Also today, the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg opens its 222nd season with Mikhail Glinka's opera, "A Life for the Czar". Is this a coincidence? The theater's management told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that no one should draw any parallels. According to press attaché Oksana Tokranova, it is a mere coincidence. Traditionally, the opening of a season at the theater is attended by political and business elite, as well as by leading cultural figures from Moscow and St. Petersburg. Tonight's performance, with tickets costing up to $100, is a sell-out. "A Life for the Czar" appeared in 1836 and marked the birth of Russian classic opera. The Mariinsky Theater opened with this opera on October 2, 1860 and this remained a tradition until 1917. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the edited and abridged opera was staged under different names, including "The Sickle and the Hammer". The theater's current art director, Valery Gergiyev, decided to restore its original version. So, in 2003, when Russia celebrated the 200th anniversary of Glinka's birth, "A Life for the Czar" returned to the theater's stage. The action takes place in 1612-1613, during the war with Poland. It describes the heroic deed of a Russian peasant who sacrificed his life to save the czar from the Poles plotting an attempt on his life.
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