La Traviata

8 Questions with Russian State Opera Producer Alexej Ignatow

Posted on 27 August 2018

Following the success of their touring ballet productions, the internationally acclaimed Russian State Ballet and Opera House return to the Belgrade Theatre this week with two of the most popular and accessible works in operatic history.

Ahead of their performances of Bizet’s Carmen on Thursday 30 August and Verdi’s La Traviata on Friday 31 August, producer Alexej Ignatow told us more about his work with the company, and what he loves most about classical music.


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 opera?

Here I must admit, I am very conservative and currently enjoy more the mainstream titles. Maybe it is because I’ve heard Puccini’s and Verdi’s masterpieces more often than others, but all these somehow feel more related to me. I enjoy much more the individual takes that one production offers as compared with another – the small details right one might not see right away away, but suddenly understands a bit later.

La Traviata

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 11 years. During this period, we have organised over 25 tours of ballet and opera productions, equating to over 1000 performances. In 2018 we will be presenting over 140 performances across the UK.


What are the highlights of the new tour and what can audiences expect?

This season, we will have three opera productions, Carmen, Madama Butterfly and La Traviata. We are excited to work this year with the Mari State Opera and Ballet Theatre. All three operas are eternal opera classics, but as it’s new theatre, audiences can also expect new costumes and staging. Every one of the productions should be a wonderful evening out with beautiful singing and ‘feast for the eye’ sets.

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!”

Russian State Opera present Bizet’s Carmen and Verdi’s La Traviata at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 August respectively. Tickets are available to book now.