At the end of the 19th century, Tatarstan was known as the Athens on the Volga. In the eye of contemporaries, the city atmosphere contributed to the learning of science and art. There was a drama theater where concerts and operas were regularly held. Years have passed, times of prosperity followed the times of times of decay, and vice versa, and the ideology changed as well. After overcoming some twists and turns of its history, Tatarstan and its capital managed to save and enlarge their rich musical and theatrical traditions of the past. Today, the Republic is a world class center of cultural life.
A theater for Everyone
The theatrical history of Kazan goes back to 1791 when the first public theater opened here. This was the beginning of what later became known as the Kazan Academic Russian Big Drama Theater named after V.I. Kachalov. Almost at once, it ranked up with St.Petersburg’s and Moscow’s theaters and contributed to the development of the Russian Realism School. Some famous stars began their career on the stage of the Kazan Theater: Mikhail Shchepkin, Polina Strepetova, Vasiliy Kachalov and Vasiliy Samoylov. Nowadays, the Kazan Theater is the center of Russian theater culture, which means that not only the traditions have been preserved but that it is also constantly developing. At the theater, you can see not only traditional performances, but also modern works such as ‘Pikovaya Dama’ (The Queen of Spades’) by Alexander Pushkin and ‘Baba Chanel’ by Nikolay Kolyada.
The Molodezhny Theater on the Bolaq has a completely different atmosphere. It cannot boast a long history or longstanding traditions and the age of its actors is rarely over 25. The troupe mainly consists of students from the Kazan Theater School and is enriched with new young actors on a regular basis. You will not find luxurious decorations or a pompous hall here. However, where else could a creative director greet the audience before each performance? And where else could actors go down into the audience to encourage spectators to take part in the performance? One comes here to spend an evening and leaves the theater as a fan forever, charmed by unusual performances and an emotional atmosphere.
The Galiaskar Kamal Tatar Academic Theater is a genuine center of national culture. It was founded in 1906 when the first public performance, spoken in Tatar, was held. The themes of the repertoire is represented by plays of modern Tatar playwrights. However, classical plays like ‘Richard III,’ by Shakespeare, and national masterpieces such as ‘Blue Shawl,’ written in 1926, are not left out. At the same time, during the performances of foreign and Russian classics, you can feel the national peculiarities and the distinctive Tatar character. An evening in the Kamal Theatre will give you an opportunity to understand the soul of the Tatar people, and may become one of the best memories from your trip to Tatarstan.
Teatr.Act is the first Kazan chamber theater that became famous as an experimental theater. There is no space between the seats and the stage inside the theater. As a result, a compelling and profound interaction takes place between actors and audience.
The Creative Laboratory ‘Ugol’ (‘Corner’) is the youngest theatrical project in Kazan, and it became a destination for both spectators and actors. Its unique aspect is the transforming hall with mobile walls and stage, which allows it to hold various sketch performances.
Kazan International Festival of Muslim Cinema
For a few days in September, the capital of the Republic dives into the ‘most important form of art’ (according to V.I. Lenin). Professional directors and cinema fans come to Kazan from all over the world to visit the Festival of Muslim Cinema. The motto of the festival, ‘Through the dialogue of cultures to the culture of dialogue,’ reflects the main idea. The program consists of films that depict the ideas of patience and sympathy, explain the values of Islam and other religions, and teach how to make an international dialogue.
The music tied us together...
Classical Music Festivals
Tatarstan got its own symphonic orchestra in 1966. Headed by Principal Conductor, Natan Rakhlin, the orchestra became one of the best music groups in the USSR. Nowadays the orchestra does many concerts and concert tours, and works on a number of musical projects. Thanks to the orchestra and its current Principal Conductor, Alexander Sladkovsky, residents and visitors to Kazan have an opportunity to enjoy classical music played by the best musicians in the world year-round.
For instance, in April, ‘Rakhlinskie Sezony’ (Rakhlin Seasons) are held, a festival in memory of Natan Rakhlin, who was the first creative director and the chief conductor of the orchestra. In May, ‘Belaya Siren’ (White Lilac) festival, devoted to Sergey Rakhmaninov, takes place. Tatarstan Republic Day is on September 30. This is the day when the outdoor opera festival called ‘Kazanskaya Osen’ (Kazan Fall) starts. Traditionally, in the middle of autumn, Denis Matsuev comes to the festival called ‘Matsuev U Druzey’ (Matsuev at His Friends’). November is the month of the modern symphonic music, since it is being promoted by the festival Concordia.
Improvisation Music Festival at the Sandetsky Estate
Every year from June to August, the park at the Republic of Tatarstan State Museum of Arts turns into a jazz kingdom. Every Thursday, the thick summer night is immersed in subtle swing rhythms, exciting musical turns that kept the best from its western European and African ancestors. The Kazan festival is open to all types of jazz, from mainstream to avant-garde, which attracts both spectators and musicians. Some people come to enjoy the diversity of this beautiful musical genre, while others see it as an opportunity to freely express themselves.
Opera and Ballet
Though the citizens of Kazan have been acquainted with opera since the 18th century, 1874 is considered to be the beginning of regular opera seasons. In 1874, the opera ‘Zhizn’ za tsarya’ (A Life for the Tsar) by Mikhail Glinka was held. Tatarstan owes its independent theater and opera to the Soviet Union Government, since the first performance was held in 1939 in the Tatar Musa Jalil Academic State Opera and Ballet Theatre. The theater takes an honorable third place in Russia, right after the Mariinsky Theatre and the Bolshoy Theatre. The high level of performances and spectators’ interest are maintained due to the western system: most parts are sang by invited artists who are selected among the best singers.
With the approval of the theater, two festivals that are considered to be a fusion of the opera and ballet seasons are held. In February, the Chaliapin International Opera Festival is held, and in May, the Nuriev International Festival of Classic Ballet is held. During the festive day performances of the Tatar Opera and Ballet Theater, the most popular songs are performed by the world's best singers and dancers. Lyubov Kazarnovskaya, Dmitry Khvorostovsky, Khibla Gerzmava, Ulyana Lopatkina, Nikolay Tsiskaridze and many other stars come to Kazan to pay their respects to the extraordinary geniuses Chaliapin and Nuriev.
The capital of Tatarstan is a routine part of the musical tour program for all musical groups. Famous singers such as Sting, Elton John, Natalia Oreiro and crème de la crème from the Russian stage, from Alla Pugacheva to Polina Gagarina, all have visited Kazan. And it is not only because Kazan is a large city and a cultural center of the whole Republic. Due to the new concert halls, performing here as well as being a part of the audience is both enjoyable. Wonderful acoustics, a perfect view, cozy chairs and a comfortable stage make the meticulous Uniks, futuristic Piramida, and multi-functional Hermitage so attractive. attracattractive.