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State Opera and Ballet Theater, “Astana Opera”, Presents “Voice of Asia” at Carnegie Hall

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State Opera and Ballet Theater “Astana Opera”
Tolegen Mukhamejanov, Director
(Astana Opera Website)

“Voice of Asia”
The Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra
Abzal Mukhitdinov, Conductor
Chamber Choir

Carnegie Hall
Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 27, 2014

The Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra
The Astana Opera Chamber Choir
Abzal Mukhitdinov and Erzhan Dautov, Conductors
Zhupar Gabdullina, Aigul Niyazova, and Alfiya Karimova, Sopranos
Dina Khamzina, Mezzo-Soprano
Medet Chotabayev, Tenor
Sundet Baygozhin, Baritone
Ruslan Baimurzin, Dombyra
Akbope Jumabayeva, Qobyz
Erzhan Kulibaev, Violin

TCHAIKOVSKY “Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35”
RAKHMADIEV “Qudashŕ Dumŕn”
ZHUBANOV-KHAMIDI "Aittym salem Kalamkas" from “Abai”
VERDI "Santo di patria" from “Attila”
ROSSINI "Largo al factotum" from “Il barbičre di Siviglia”
OFFENBACH Barcarolle from “Les contes d’Hoffmann”
BERNSTEIN "Glitter and Be Gay" from “Candide”
BORODIN Polovtsian Dances from “Prince Igor”
And Kazakh folk songs

Tonight’s gorgeous concert, called “Voice of Asia”, was presented by the Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra, their Chamber Choir, and an ensemble of outstanding opera singers, folk instrumentalists, a featured violin soloist, an A Cappella Choir, and two Conductors. Before this diverse and dynamic concert began, the audience heard welcoming comments from US Congressman Gregory Meeks, the Kazakhstan Ambassador to the United Nations, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, and the Director of the State Theatre of Opera and Ballet “Astana Opera”, Tolegan Mukhamejanov. The Conductors for each work were Abzal Mukhitdinov, for the Orchestra, and Erzhan Dautov, for the Choir. What made this concert so special was the large number of youthful orchestral musicians, mixed generously with seasoned musicians, as well as the ebullient expressiveness of the engaging performances. The first work, by Rakhmadiev, a celebratory Symphonic Scherzo, was presented by the full Orchestra. It featured a xylophone and heavy percussion, with a galloping motif, highlighting the musicians’ brisk, youthful fervor.

Following the introductory piece, Erzhan Kulibaev, tonight’s violin soloist, stunned the crowd with his exceptional expertise in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, bringing him back for several stage bows. Mr. Kulibaev drew out soulful, luxuriant phrases in Tchaikovsky’s most melodic theme, and I couldn’t stop thinking that Isaac Stern, who graced this very stage so many times, and for whom this auditorium is named, was honored tonight. The Concerto was transporting and heartrending. Next, a soprano, Aigul Niyazova, and a tenor, Medet Chotabayev, in colorful, Kazakh costumes, both also strumming Kazakh stringed instruments, were joined by the Choir and Orchestra, singing from Birzhan & Sara. The tenor returned for a solo aria from Abai with the Choir and Orchestra. Mr. Chotabayev sang with expansive dramatic flair. An aria from Verdi’s Attila was next, as the two Conductors shifted places for a second time, and Zhupar Gabdullina, soprano, filled the Hall with shimmering tones.

After an impassioned, deep-toned aria from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, sung by baritone, Sundet Baygozhin, “Belle Nuit” from Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann was gorgeously showcased by soprano, Aigul Niyazova, mezzo-soprano, Dina Khamzina, the Choir, and Orchestra. This music floated like midnight fireflies, with the bright red dresses of the female Choir so resilient against the cream and red décor of this Hall. For an eclectic change, Alfiya Karimova sang in English, from Bernstein’s Candide, “Glitter and Be Gay”, with comical gestures that crossed all language barriers. It should be noted that this special concert brought out an enormous crowd from the Eastern European and Russian communities in the New York region and beyond. The A Cappella Choir rollicked onstage for “Elijah Rock”, led by the Choir Conductor. This was truly a cross-cultural extravaganza, of impressive design. When the “Motherland” song was played on Dombyra and Kobyz, by Ruslan Baimurzin Gulzhan Mustakhim, many in the audience sang along.

The finale was the finest presentation I have ever heard of Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, from Prince Igor, with Choir and Orchestra. Crashing cymbals, searing strings, powerful timpani, and full Choir and Orchestra brought this work to life with explosive volume and fiery musicality. Maestro Mukhitdinov was dancing with the rhythm, his baton flying and piercing the air. Kudos to The Astana Opera and Symphony Orchestra, and kudos to all.

The Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra
On the Carnegie Hall Stage
Courtesy Karla Nur

Erzhan Kulibaev, Violinist
with the Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra
Courtesy of "Astana Opera"

The Astana Opera Choir A Capella
Performs "Elijah Rock"
Courtesy of Karla Nur

Conductor Abzal Mukhitdinov, Dina Khamzina,
Sundet Baygozhin, Zhupar Gabdullina,
and Medet Chotabayev.
Courtesy of Marina Lagunova

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at