February 26, 2016
The conductor of the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theater, Dilbar Abdurakhmanova, will celebrate her 80th birthday this year. She devoted sixty years of her life to the theater, the greater part of which she worked as a conductor. The maestro is full of creative strength and plans for the future.

She has found time in her busy schedule and talked to an Uzbekistan Today correspondent.

“Do you get tired?”

“No. I like to work with actors, and judging by everything, they like to work with me. After all, when we work out with them a party from an opera, they start feeling confident. Furthermore, I am strongly convinced that conductor is a profession for the second half of one’s life. So, everything lies ahead of me.

“You made an appointment for me at the producers department and said that you would be there for the first time. Why?”

“I mean for the first time after the overhaul. Generally speaking, I seldom visit this part of the theater; I spend most of my time with the orchestra. I come here to work with singers. But mostly they come to my place.”

“How do you like the new environment?”

“We introduce young actors to “Carmen”. The thing is that we have only one Jose in our group, who is 58 years old. He is an excellent endowed singer. But currently we train the second group; any theater should have a replacement. Even we, conductors, have our substitutes.”

“How do you assess the youth’s level of training?”

“There are many talents and well-trained young people among those who join the staff of the theater. But all of them are just beginners. They used to work alone at the Conservatory, while here they need to get used to the team and act as team players.

To ensure that a theatrical performance has turned into one single play one has to know many laws. Only experienced specialists can teach it to young people.

We have to work hard with young performers, literally to pronounce every single word they have to say on the stage and sharpen every motion not to feel lost on the stage.

Imagine such a complex play as opera “Aida” going on the stage – there is a brass band on the stage, the other one is in the orchestra pit; also there are two choirs, ten leading soloists – everybody may get confused here. And the conductor’s task is to make sure that the entire staff, that creative organism, works as one single whole.”

“What do you most often compare the conductor’s job with?”

“With the construction of a multi-deck ship. Especially, when you work on a new production with the involvement of a chorus master, ballet master, sewing shop workers, lighting shop operators, chief artist, producers – everybody doing his or her job. The conductor has a special role to play at this stage, who works with every individual singer and musician and explains what they will have to do during the play; and then puts everything together.”

“What would you say if you were asked to characterize in one word what your occupation means to you?”

“Everything. It’s my life. I have been in the theater since I was 19; the first five years I studied at the Conservatory. Then I started my career as a conductor. I have 60 years of service record in one place. I can remember many funny events. For example, how we worked on a production timed for the opening of the Istiqlol Palace, or how we marked the 2000th anniversary of Tashkent. I have the richest repertoire and I travelled more than anyone else with the troupe on tours; and worked as chief conductor for 16 years.”

“What is your favorite play in the repertoire?”

“I remember how I worked on Prokofiev’s “Fiery Angel” in 1984 and how Evgeny Svetlanov asked me in Moscow, “Dilbar, what are working on?” I told him that I was working on the “Fiery Angel?” “And where did you take the notes?” he kept asking. I told him, “At the London Royal Library.” And that was true.

It was incredibly difficult to get the notes since Prokofyev, who moved to Germany together with his family for permanent residence, suffered great financial difficulties and was forced to sell his notes to Englishmen. But nobody staged his play in Great Britain and the notes eventually were placed into Great Britain’s main library. This is something we had learnt from the composer’s biography.

Later, I found out that by then Gennady Rozhdenstvensky had made a clavier of these notes, although where had he taken them from – remains unknown. We also found Rozhdenstvensky’s work, which was kept in the stocks of the Moscow Conservatory. It was the author’s copy – all covered with scribbles and notes.

I gave all money I had with me a copy of it. The production had really turned out good, because all the very best specialists worked on it: production director Firudin Safarov, the then the best theatrical artist in Tashkent Yuri Brim, whom we invited from the Khamza Theater.”

“Would you agree to live through another life of a conductor Dilbar Abdurakhmanova if you had to make a life choice now?”

“It’s hard to say, you know. Probably I wouldn’t. It’s a tough job.”

(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)


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