05:55 GMT +318 July 2018
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    A view of the Bari province symphonic orchestra directed by Fabio Mastrangelo, at right in foreground, during a concert to mark the reopening of the Petruzzelli theatre, in Bari southern Italy. (File)

    Artistic Director Reveals Way to Defuse Russia-West Political Tension

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Fabio Mastrangelo, one of the participants of the "Russian Seasons" festival in Italy and the artistic director of the St. Petersburg State Music Hall Theater, told Sputnik on Monday that he believed the project was a great initiative which could defuse the tensions between Russia and the West by underlining common cultural ties.

    The official opening ceremony of "Russian Seasons" took place on January 14, 2018 in Rome.

    "The idea fuelling this state-supported initiative is at once fascinating and inspiring and, definitely, shares with its historical predecessor the pride in showcasing first rate artistic products 'Made in Russia.' I could not think of a better way to relax the tensions we are going through in these days," he said.

    He underlined that this year the host country, Italy, was the country with which Russia had the "deepest historical ties of all."

    "Therefore, in my opinion, is the ideal receiver of such extraordinary amount of attention," Mastrangelo, who is also commonly referred to as Russia's most famous Italian-born conductor, added.

    Relations between Russia and the West deteriorated in 2014 over the Ukrainian crisis and Crimea's reunification with Russia. The reunification was recognized neither by Ukraine nor by Western countries, which subsequently imposed economic and political sanctions on Moscow. The tension escalated even further after the United Kingdom accused Moscow of the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the UK city of Salisbury. Russia has repeatedly denied all accusations.

    OVER ONE MILLION PEOPLE ATTENDED RUSSIAN EVENTS IN ITALY

    Over a million people attended events and performances during the first 100 days of the "Russian Seasons" festival in Italy, Russian Deputy Minister of Culture Alexander Zhuravsky said on Monday during a press conference held in the multimedia press center of the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency.

    "The festival’s program is very intense. For the second year in a row the project proves its cultural capacity and extreme relevance to the countries where it is hosted. This year the "Russian Seasons" festival began in January… One hundred days is a significant period. About a million Russians and Italians have already attended the events," Zhuravsky said.

    According to the deputy minister, the festival of Russian arts already visited 34 Italian cities such as Naples, Venice, Padua and Rome.

    Zhuravsky also underlined that until the end of the year it is planned to stage 310 cultural events, which would facilitate the enlargement of friendly relations between the Russian and Italian peoples.

    STORY THAT GOES BACK TO CATHERINE THE GREAT

    Mastrangelo told Sputnik that within the "Russian Seasons’" framework his symphony orchestra, the St. Petersburg Northern Synfonia, along with singers from both Italy and Russia and in cooperation with the Hermitage Theatre, would participate with two opera performances using rare and unique musical instruments of the XVIII century. They were given to two Italian composers Giovanni Paisiello and Domenico Cimarosa presents by Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great.

    "Representing the St. Petersburg 'Music Hall' Theatre, director Julia Strizhak and myself will participate with two different projects in Naples and its vicinity. Our story starts at the time of Catherine the Second. Being the illuminated leader she was, she surrounded herself with extremely interesting and talented individuals. Among them two Italian composers: Giovanni Paisiello and Domenico Cimarosa. During their respective long-term stays in Russia, in St. Petersburg, they composed a number of operas which were immensely appreciated by the Tsarina," Mastrangelo said.

    Later, according to Mastrangelo, as a sign of her appreciation and gratitude, Catherine donated to both Cimarosa and Paisiello two harpsichords which, upon returning to Italy, the two of them had shipped along with their belongings.

    "Well, making a long story short, both instruments were found in Naples Conservatory and restored. The unique idea consists in performing excerpts of operas written while in Russia utilizing the historical instruments," he underlined.

    The "Russian Seasons" festival will last until December and will be held in more than 70 Italian cities. Its program includes concerts, theatrical and ballet performances, circus shows, exhibitions, and film screenings. Among the participants are the Bolshoi State Academic Theatre of Russia, the Mariinsky State Academic Theatre, the Russian State Pushkin Academic Drama Theatre (Alexandrinsky Theatre), the Vakhtangov Academic Theatre, the State Hermitage Museum, the Schusev State Museum of Architecture and others, according to the Festival’s organizers.

    "Russian Seasons" is named and designed after Sergey Dyagilev's renowned "Russian Seasons" tour, which featured performances by Russian ballet and opera artists at the beginning of 20th century in Paris.

    Zhuravsky announced on Monday that in 2019 Germany would host the "Russian Seasons" festival.

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