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Premiere of "Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess" at Latvian National Opera

RIGA, March 12 - Opera-lecture "Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess" will have its premiere at the Latvian National Opera tonight, as the LNO public relations officer Aiga Sprindza told LETA.

The opera was composed by Kristaps Petersons, libretto is by poet Sergejs Timofejevs. The creative team includes two conductors, Ainars Rubikis and Atvars Lakstigala, Viesturs Meiksans is the stage director.

Meiksans chose to create the opera as a multimedia lecture. The number of cast members is 32 (fourteen chamber ensemble musicians, eight singers, eight dancers and two conductors) - the precise number of pieces in a chess game. At the center of the opera is the unusual phenomenon behind the popularity of chess during the Cold War. The opera's musical dramaturgy is precisely based on Game Six of the 1960 Moscow World Championship, in which Latvia's legendary chess player Mikhail Tal dethroned the seemingly-invincible Mikhail Botvinnik.

The production's creative team is made up of conductors Rubikis and Lakstigala, set designer Reinis Suhanovs, librettist Timofejevs, choreographer Kirill Burlov, video artist Carlos Franklin and costume designers "Mareunrol's". The cast consists of opera singers Dana Bramane, Armands Silins, Juris Adamsons, Ieva Parsa, Andris Lapins and others.
"The story itself is the most important part of the performance. If the Americans have John Cage, who changed the perception of avant-garde music, then we have Mikhail Tal whose symbolic victory in a match against Mikhail Botvinnik changed the way of thinking in the world of chess. The meaning and essence of this story is very inspirational," commented Meiksans.

"The main idea was to transfer a game of chess into music, for which I created my own system so I could bring to life this particular Game Six from the 1960 World Championship. To this end, the chess board is divided into notes, one note per square. When a chess piece moves it creates a motif, and these motifs make up the melodic structure of the opera," said composer Petersons, emphasizing though that none of the two Mikhails who play the game would actually participate in the performance, the story would be retold by the chess pieces in the game. Petersons said it was important to him to make the opera understandable to a person who does not know much about chess at all.
The opera-lecture is in Russian, the next performances are scheduled for March 13 and 21 May 23 in the Latvian National Opera's New Hall, and June 7 and 10 at the Riga Opera Festival.

"Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess" is one of the events of the European Capital of Culture Riga program.
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