Vaiva Mažulytė

www.kamane.lt , 2010 06 01

Opening concert of Pažaislis Music Festival. Photo by T.Ragina

The 15th summer of Pažaislis Music Festival started in Pažaislis Monastery on the 30th of May. Powerful forces of performers participated in the opening concert traditionally: the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra (art director and principal conductor Gintaras Rinkevičius), Kaunas State Choir (art director and principal conductor Petras Bingelis) and soloists Joana Gedmintaitė, Jovita Vaškevičiūtė, Edgaras Montvidas, Vytautas Juozapaitis.

The programme of the opening concert has turned into tradition already. A cocktail of popular opera arias resounded in addition to Te Deum by Antonin Dvorak, like several years in sequence. Only this time it surprised by its freshness thanks to the professionalism and persuasion of the performers.

One more tradition: the quality of sound was rather poor, as usual. This problem was noticeable at the beginning the most, when Te Deum by A.Dvorak was performed. The solemn opus suited the space of Pažaislis Monastery well. Still, stereo sound was missing when the choir and orchestra played the most august episodes. It was hard to distinguish the most important things in the general mass of sound: melodies, certain voices and instruments. Meanwhile, silent and solo episodes sounded completely differently. The melody performed by the choir could be heard quite well even in the mono mode.

The soloists J.Gedmintaitė and V.Juozapaitis performed Te Deum by A.Dvorak along with the orchestra and choir. J.Gedmintaitė sang the solo part subtly, with beautiful dynamic nuances. Her voice timbre is perfectly suitable for this music piece. V.Juozapaitis chose slightly different interpretation. He performed his solo part much more dramatically and theatrically. Perhaps assuredness about this part was lacking. Still, the baton controlled by the conductor G.Rinkevičius precisely joined two different soloists, the choir and orchestra into one whole. All the performers of Te Deum gave a show worth attention.

After the concert. Photo by T.Ragina

The soloist E.Montvidas performed powerfully in the second part of the programme. He created persuasive opera characters on the concert stage: from the suffering Lenski from the opera of P.Tchaikovsky “Eugene Onegin“ to the snappy and convivial Nemarin in the duet with Adina (J.Gedmintaitė) from the opera of G.Donizzeti “L'Elisir d'Amore“.

J.Gedmintaitė sang perfectly in Te Deum by A.Dvorak and in the duet with E.Montvidas. However, she chose the very complicated Linda’s aria from the opera of G.Donizzeti “Linda di Chamounix“ for her solo. One could hear that the soloist was busy with technical problems rather than with the creation of the character or rendering of meaning of music. Coloratura passages did not sound free and without efforts audible to the audience. Meanwhile, this music demanded freedom and lightness in particular.

J.Vaškevičiūtė, who performed habanera of Carmen from the opera of G.Bizet “Carmen”, seemed to be the weakest among strong soloists. The soloist lacked air for long phrases due to the thrill. The playful and flirtatious image of Carmen created by her had too few colours and too little internal power.

After the concert. Photo by T.Ragina

What was unusual? The audience sat with their backs to the church of Pažaislis Monastery for the first time in the history of the festival. This time the participants of the festival faced the temple.

Another untraditional phenomenon surprised too: this time the opening concert of Pažaislis Music Festival did not draw crowds of listeners. All standing people had a perfect chance to sit down. Does it mean that the cultural tradition to attend the opening concert of Pažaislis Music Festival and to rejoice for its existence is weakening? Or perhaps it is a silent note of the audience that the festival of fifteen years could get slightly rebellious while it is a teenager?

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