War and Peace

War and Peace

Opera by Sergei Prokofiev


Lorsqu’on aime d’un amour humain on peut passer de l’amour à la haine ; l’amour divin, lui, ne peut changer. Rien, la mort même, rien ne peut le détruire. Il est l’essence même de l’âme.

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Infos & Cast


Health and Safety Regulations

Infos & Cast

Opera by Sergei Prokofiev

Libretto by the composer and Mira Mendelson after the novel by Leo Tolstoy
First performed in 1946 in St. Petersburg
For the first time at the Grand Théâtre de Genève
Coproduction with the Hungarian State Opera

September 13, 15, 17, 21, 24, 2021 – 7pm
September 19, 2021 – 3pm
Sung in russian with french and english subtitles
Duration: approx. 3h45 with one intermission

Musical Director Alejo Pérez
Stage Director Calixto Bieito
Scenographer Rebecca Ringst
Costumes designer Ingo Krügler
Lighting designer Michael Bauer
Video Sarah Derendinger
Dramaturgy Beate Breidenbach
Choir director Alan Woodbridge

Prince Andreï Bolkonski Björn Bürger
Prince Nikolaï Bolkonski Alexey Tikhomirov
Princesse Maria Bolkonski Liene Kinca
Comte Ilia Rostov Eric Halfvarson
Natasha Rostova Ruzan Mantashyan
Sonia, sa cousine Lena Belkina
Comte Pierre Besoukhov Daniel Johansson
Comtesse Helena Besoukhova Elena Maximova
Maria Akhrossimova Natascha Petrinsky
Anatole Kouragin Ales Briscein
Dolokhov Alexey Shishlyaev
Général Koutouzov Dmitry Ulyanov
Napoléon Bonaparte Alexey Lavrov
Colonel Denisov Alexander Roslavets
Platon Karataïev Alexander Kravets
Gavrila Alexei Botnarciuc

Grand Théâtre de Genève Chorus
Orchestre de la Suisse romande

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Tah-dah! What a massive drum roll to open a season! Prokofiev’s most monumental opera (and probably also of the entire Russian repertoire) finally arrives in Geneva: War and Peace should, according to some, be called Peace and War. Inspired among other things by the recent invasion of Russia by Nazi Germany and the breaking of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, Sergei Prokofiev, the prodigal son who had returned to his homeland only a few years earlier, tackled Leo Tolstoy’s colossus to create this work of monumental disproportions.
It wasn’t the composer’s first attempt to make Russian prose sing. He had already tackled the great Dostoyevsky with The Gambler when he graduated from the conservatory. He had to wait until 1929, fifteen years, before the work was finally premiered in Brussels. Each of his operas met with a similar fate, but this did not stop Prokofiev from continuing to imagine and write The Love of Three Oranges and The Fiery Angel during his years of exile, and Semyon Kotko and Betrothal in the Monastery on his return to Russia. Obviously, War and Peace was not spared these vicissitudes: a dialogue of the deaf set in as soon as the composer himself presented the song-piano version to the party authorities; versions and accidents followed one another. The work was not premiered in its entirety until the end of 1959, six years after the death of the composer, who died one day before Stalin.
Is it as a response to this fracas that the scenes of Peace stand among the most beautiful intimist tableaux that Prokofiev ever wrote for opera, by contrast with the Tsarist – or should we say Soviet – tableaux that constitute the most part of the second half War, where the composer dutifully performs the requisite journalistic propaganda and glorifies the Russian generals and their victory over the Napoleonic troops? Nevertheless, in this fragmented fresco of individuals lost in the mass, Prokofiev masterfully manages to narrate the passage from individual adventure to popular struggle, to one great tale of love and death, perhaps even with true nationalist feeling.
Directing the seventy-two characters is Calixto Bieito, one of the greatest living opera directors, working for the first time on the Geneva opera stage. The emotional intensity that Bieito, an expert in crowd scenes, is able to build will be musically upheld by the young Argentine conductor Alejo Pérez, who is increasingly seen on European opera stages. He tackles this masterful score alongside a highly diverse cast of soloists that will mix great Russian voices with other major talents from all over the opera world – Ruzan Mantashyan, Dmitry Ulyanov and Björn Bürger, to name a few.

Health and Safety Regulations

For your comfort and well-being, we will welcome visitors in accordance with the current health and safety regulations. As recommended by public health authorities and the Swiss Theatres Union, a COVID certificate will be requested on entering the building and masks will be compulsory in order to help visitors feel safe inside the theatre. More details in the COVID Info segment below.

Doors open 1 hour before the performance. We recommend that you come early to avoid queues when entering the building. The Grand Théâtre de Genève will open several entry points to ease the flow of arrivals. Please go first to the main entrance where our ushers will direct you to an entry point.

Free rapid testing available at the theater! The GTG is offering a rapid antigen testing tent 2 hours before the performance begins. These tests are free of charge. We recommend coming early so you don’t miss the beginning of the performance.

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War and Peace at La Plage

Éclairage 7.9.2021
La fresque et l’intime : Guerre et Paix à l’heure soviétique, présenté par Mathilde Reichler
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Public dress rehearsal 11.9.2021
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En coulisse 19.9.2021
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Intropéra 45 minutes before each opera or ballet
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2021-2022 Season

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