Georgian Tenor Conquers Biel & Solothurn Theaters


Dieter Kaegi, General Director at the Theater Orchestra Biel Solothurn, Switzerland, describes Georgian tenor of the Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater, Irakli Murjikneli, who has once again conquered international audiences with his amazing performance in Switzerland: “I first heard Irakli in an international opera-workshop in Switzerland more than a year ago. He stood out from many other young singers for his musicality, his effortless and beautiful tenor voice, his strong presence on stage and his convincing acting, which is always natural and honest. For our production of Tchaikovsky’s last opera, Iolanta, I was looking for just that kind of singer. I was thrilled when I heard that Irakli was free to come to Switzerland to sing the role of Count Vaudémont in my production of Iolanta. Irakli proved to be the perfect choice! He sings this most difficult role with ease and conviction. It is rare to find singers, particularly tenors, who identify themselves in such a convincing way with their role.”

Currently, the Georgian opera singer is based in Switzerland where he is taking part in a number of operas. One of the latest plays, Iolanta was attended by the Ambassador of Georgia to Switzerland David Jalagania, who, after the curtains closed, left “full of pride.” “I was really proud when listening to your brilliant singing. I shared the joy and pleasure of the audience, who demonstrated their excitement and admiration both toward the play and personally you by the wave of ovations,” the Ambassador wrote Irakli soon after.

GEORGIA TODAY contacted the renowned Georgian artist and singer to get a deeper insight into his career.

How did you get invited to work in Switzerland and perform in front of foreign audience?

I met the Director of the Theater Orchestra Biel Solothurn in Zürich a year and a half ago. I was taking part in the annual International Opern Werkstatt workshop that gathers young performers from around the world. One of the founders of the festival and my teacher, Verena Keller, told me Dieter Kaegi, Intendant of Theater Biel, would be there. It turned out he was looking for someone for the role of Count Vaudémont. He liked my performance and after the session approached me and asked if I was free from January 2018. I accepted his offer and within a month, in December 2016, he sent me an agreement to perform 21 performances of Iolanta in five theaters in Switzerland. I was also contacted by the Director of Grand Opera de Tour who asked me to take part in the three performances of the same co-production. I was also offered the chance to sing in Mozart and Salieri, three performances composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Tell us about the performance attended by the Ambassador of Georgia to Switzerland

I was excited when the Embassy of Georgia responded to our invitation. I want to express my thankfulness to Ambassador Jalagania and his team for coming. That performance was also attended by the President of the Puccini Festival, my friend Alberto Veronesi, who is also a frequent guest of the Tbilisi Opera. I have cooperated with him on several productions staged in the Tbilisi Opera Theater, including L’elisir D’amore by Donizetti and La Traviata by Verdi.

Tell us about life abroad

I’m passionate about performing in a foreign country, since when you are a newcomer and the public does not know you well, it’s always interesting to listen to their opinions and impressions about your acting. It’s interesting to collaborate with foreign colleagues, since I learn a lot and develop professionally. The sad part of the story is that I am thousands of kilometers away from home and loved ones. I miss my family, my wife Natia and daughter Sofia.

What stood out most in your work on Iolanta?

The performance was directed by Dieter Kaegi, one of the most distinguished representatives of his profession I have ever worked with. He goes deeply into the piece, into details and feelings of the characters that are born in the singers. Iolanta is a blind girl, so Dieter brought a girl with vision impairment to the rehearsal, so we could talk to her and understand what it is like to be blind. The play was conducted by Alexander Anissimov, who is considered one of the best interpreters of Tchaikovsky’s pieces. I developed professionally through working with him. Stage designer Francis O'Connor added his note to this fairytale with stage design and wonderful costumes. I prepared my vocal part with the help of my celebrated teacher in Tbilisi Alexandre Khomeriki and, as a result, my vocal performance was praised by the audience and for that I am deeply thankful to him.

What are your future plans and when are you coming back to Tbilisi?

I’m coming back to Georgia on June 5th after performing in France. I’m now preparing for the premiere of Simon Boccanegra by Verdi. Next season I’ll perform in Viktor Dolidze’s Keto and Kote in Tbilisi Opera, singing Kote’s part; I’ll sing in all upcoming performances, for which I am extremely thankful to Badri Maisuradze. I also have a few upcoming auditions in several big theaters. I’ve already agreed to perform in La Boheme by Puccini in Theater Biel. In total, I’ll be in around 45 performances aboard within the next two years.

Lika Chigladze

15 March 2018 18:47