photo Pavel Chervenkov

Pauline entered my life ten years ago, when I was a young singer, when my group was constantly intrigued by the great masters of bel canto, such as Pasta, Malibran, Viardot, Callas. However, a few years ago, when we all came together for a joint creative engagement, we discovered Viardot the composer and her diverse palette of techniques and emotions - since that time, we have tried in all sorts of ways to expand the notion of Pauline as a female composer. We have given several chamber concerts which were great emotional successes and have led to a clear shared desire for "MORE" from Pauline and all of her "lions", for example Brahms, Chopin, Saint-Saens and so many others who wrote for her and with her.

We hope to awaken interest in Pauline in you as well, to rediscover together an exceptional artist whose musical salon in Paris was famed as the most prestigious debut stage and a tribune for brave Romantics.

Once again, we feel ever surer that in space and time there exist parallel paths, where people come together to create for others, led by their faith and unconditional love for the arts.

With reckless bravery, yet also great enthusiasm, hoping to strike the right note, whose vibrations will pique others' interest, we have created a short musical performance about an exceptional and multifaceted woman, Pauline Viardot - singer, love object, muse, composer.

We see one crucial aspect in her life story, the theme of Ivan Turgenev's one true love: Pauline Viardot. An important moment - no, rather a period - in Turgenev's life was his acquaintance with her and her family in 1843, when the Italian opera visited St. Petersburg. Pauline Viardot herself was exceptionally gifted. More than a few poets and composers were inspired by her talent. We shall mention only a few, including Gounod (he wrote the opera "Sapho" for her), Liszt (her piano teacher), Wagner (they sang the duet from "Tristan and Isolde" together at his insistence),Glinka, Berlioz, Chopin (twelve co-authored mazurkas), and many others. Here is what Alfred de Musset wrote about her: "Yes, genius is a divine gift. It pours from Pauline Viardot like wine from an overflowing cup." She was the prototype George Sand based the character of Consuela on. In St. Petersburg, Pauline Viardot sang the role of Rosina in "The Barber of Seville" (Rossini wrote the opera for Pauline's father, Manuel Garcia, the founding father of bel canto). She was such a success that the ecstatic audience found their ovations in the concert hall insufficient, so they poured out onto the street and showered her carriage with flowers. All art-lovers were captivated by her talant. Turgenev was conquered by and deeply in love with Pauline Viardot. In a letter, Belinsky writers about Turgenev:"He has gone mad, he is now entirely immersed in Italian opera and like every enthusiast is very sweet and very amusing." Even the writer's mother, Varvara Petrovna, who had attended one of the French singer's concerts, said aloud, as if talking to herself: "I must admit it, this damn Gypsy sings well!" It is no surprise that Pauline and her art became Turgenev's destiny. When the Italian opera left St. Petersburg, Turgenev went along with it. It can be said that he spent the greater part of his life after that in Europe, only returning to Russia from time to time. But I would like to emphasize something else - on the one hand, the intense feelings for Pauline Viardot he had throughout his whole life, which caused him to follow her on her path, and on the other hand, the opportunity she gave him to become familiar with Europe's cultural achievements. Turgenev was a close friend of the greatest Western writers, including Victor Hugo, George Sand, Maupassant, and others. At the same time, he knew and communicated with Belinsky and Nekrasov, Herzen, Goncharov, Dostoevsky, and Leo Tolstoy. He also met Zhukovsky, Gogol, Mikhail Lermontov, Koltsov - that is, the greatest writers from the preceding era. For this reason, there can hardly be another Russian writer who saw as much in his lifetime or met with as many of the luminaries of the Russian and Western European intelligentsia as Turgenev. It is a pity he never wrote his memoirs - they surely would be exceptionally rich and endlessly interesting. Turgenev died in Bougival, near Paris, not far from Pauline Viardot's estate, where also had a house, which he left to Pauline's daughter. A large portion of his archives was left with Pauline, and after her death, remained with her heirs. Not everything has been published - especially his correspondence with her - yet most of it has...

INA KANCHEVA

Now, it was our turn to discover Pauline. She proved a treasury in her own right. Pauline Viardot was connected to almost all the talented people of her time. Some she collaborated with, others she inspired to create their works. She discovered people of creative potential and bravely placed her bets on them. She was a teacher for some of them. And she was on tour all the time: an extremely intensive life. So, how was all this to be synthesized in a single concert-spectacle in which music was to outweigh all the rest? I totally rejected all linearity and thoroughness. We realized that it was more important to kindle interest in this charismatic person, to peek through various spyholes into her life. The director decided to solely use documents in the script: letters written by her and to her, memoirs by her relatives and contemporaries, newspaper articles. All this was arranged by association and intuition, yet nonetheless reasonably. If we have done our job well, after the spectacle you will, hopefully, look for more... Pauline. Pauline Viardot!"

MARIY ROSEN