I find Mazeppa to be a gem. It may not be as tuneful as Eugene Onegin or as intense as Queen of Spades, but because the music is still so wonderful and the story compelling I do think that it is almost in their class. This Kirov production is simply superb. Maybe the marching band in Act 1 slow things down a tad, but that is nothing compared to the rest of the performance. The costumes and sets are lavish, the orchestra play beautifully and evocatively, and Valery Gergiev as ever conducts with an authoritative command. The choreography, especially in Act 1, is stunning too, never dull and performed with heart. Of the staging, the prayer at the end of Act 2 was extraordinarily moving and the Battle of Poltava is incredibly powerful and Gergiev adds to that. The chorus sing with a lot of fervour and involvement with attention to balance and dynamics. The performances are pretty much faultless. Perhaps Irina Loskutova is a little too old for her role, but her singing is so beautiful and her acting compelling in her Mad scene that you do forget that. Nikolai Putlin sings with resonant sturdy tone and his Mazeppa is confident and moving. Larissa Diadkova is also outstanding as Lybov, she is beautiful and she sings and acts the role like it was made for her. Sergei Aleksashkin is a commanding and splendidly sung Kochubey, he really affects in the prayer at the end of Act 2. Overall, really superb and the incredible sound on DVD also helps with the musical and dramatic conviction of the score and production. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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