Russian Mariinsky Orchestra enthralls audience in Dhahran


Saudi Gazette report

DHAHRAN – The Russian Mariinsky Orchestra treated its Saudi audience with masterpieces created by Prokofiev, Grieg, Vivaldi, Mozart and other maestros at a concert to mark the inauguration of the Ithra Theater in Dhahran in the Eastern Province.

The event at King Abdulaziz International Cultural Center was held on June 16 and 17, Saudi Press Agency said.

The prestigious world-class orchestra was hosted by Ithra, in collaboration with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Saudi Aramco, as part of Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.

“The Mariinsky Theater is one of Russia’s most distinguished and historic theaters. It has amazed audiences worldwide, including in Asia, Europe, North America and now Saudi Arabia,” Fatmah Al-Rashid, the acting director of Ithra, said.

She said: “Ithra’s mission is to broaden horizons, and provide its visitors with a cultural window that reflects the richness of our world.”

The event was part of the cultural exchange between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which aims to strengthen the bonds between the two countries.

The CEO of the RDIF, Kirill Dmitriev, who is also a member of the Mariinsky Theater’s board of trustees, said: “It is a great honor for RDIF to organize the first symphonic concert in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We all saw the admiration of the center’s audience who listened to the enchanting playing of the Russian musicians conducted by the maestro Valery Gergiev, and their enthusiastic standing ovation for the Russian orchestra.”

The orchestra has recorded symphonies and piano concertos by Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, operas by German composer Richard Wagner, France’s Jules Massenet as well as Russia’s Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “Cinderella” ballet music.

Led by renowned conductor Valery Gergiev, the orchestra presented its first performance on June 16. In their second performance, they played Prokofiev’s Symphony No.1 and Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite and arias from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute.”

“It is a very important part of our relationship because our Saudi partners can see that we bring the best of Russian art, and we have a lot to be proud of,” the RDIF chief said.

Ithra activities for the Eid also include tours of “Ithra Museum”, which is made up of four museums. First is the Funoon (Arts) Exhibition which is concerned with the latest accomplishments in contemporary art. The second is “Ajyal” (generations) that focuses on the Kingdom – past and present. Third is “Kunooz”, which is an exhibition showcasing the treasures (kunooz) of Islamic history via a large collection of historic acquisitions in the Kingdom in cooperation with the California Museum of Arts (LACMA). Fourth is the Rihlat Exhibition, which narrates the story of the natural history of the Arabian Peninsula.

The Director of Programs at Ithra Center Abdullah Al-Ayyaf said through the theater the center aims to present the best from the world cultures to the Saudi audience a well as provide a platform for Saudi talents to present their creative works to the public and develop them.

He added that the center would continue to present its programs during 2018 via several creative music and drama shows from within the Kingdom and different parts of the world. It will also present Arabic plays developed and produced by “Ithra”. The year 2019 will see the first play produced by the center, focusing on Arab history.