Controversial director Timofei Kulyabin announces first production since Tannhäuser scandal

Controversial director Timofei Kulyabin announces first production since Tannhäuser scandal
Image: Tatyana Lomakina

19 May 2015

Russian theatre and opera director Timofei Kulyabin, responsible for the controversial production of Richard Wagner's opera Tannhäuser at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, is to premiere Anton Chekov’s Three Sisters at the The Real Festival in Yekaterinburg this autumn. The play, which is said “to be filled with erotic scenes and profanity” and has been given an 18 rating, will then travel to Novosibirsk’s “Red Torch” theatre, where Kulyabin was appointed as director-in-chief before the Tannhäuser scandal broke out.

“[Three Sisters] will be a story about the modern day generation, rather than about people in 1901,” the director revealed in a recent interview with Alleya Shenderova. “This is simply because I know nothing about them, whereas I can tell you something about myself and the present day.” Kulyabin modernised Wagner's Tannhäuser in much the same vein earlier this year, with Tannhäuser participating in a film festival with his work about the unknown years of Jesus Christ.

Suggesting that Jesus was tempted by love and pleasure, the Tannhäuser production caused an outrage among both Russian Orthodox activists and theatre traditionalists, forcing Russia's Ministry of Culture to intervene by launching an inquiry and later sacking the director of Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet, Boris Mezdrich.

The Real Festival is the longest running all-Russian threatre festival, and Kulyabin's forthcoming adaptation is scheduled to open on 6 September 2015.