Monument to Nuriyev in Kazan: can Mikhail Shemyakin become the author?

Monument to Nuriyev in Kazan: can Mikhail Shemyakin become the author? Photo: Roman Khasayev

A round-table talk took place on 11 May during the parallel programme of the Rudolf Nuriyev International Classical Ballet Festival in the M. Jalil Tatar State Opera and Ballet Theatre. Its participants – representatives of the opera theatre, experts in art studies, art workers, journalists – discussed the necessity to open a monument to the ''flying Tatar man'' in Kazan. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

The festival helped

It's no secret that the annually held F. Shalyapin International Opera Festival in the Kazan opera theatre was an impulse to place a monument to Fyodor Shalyapin. By the way, this monument standing next to the Epiphany Cathedral, where Shalyapin was baptised, is still the only one around the world and already became one of the symbols of Kazan. The Shalyapin festival became like the driver that helped to immortalise the memory of the great singer in his homeland.

The Rudolf Nuriyev International Classical Ballet Festival is taking place in Kazan these days. It's been held for the 31 st time and has been bearing the name of the great dancer for the 26th time. By the way, the festival started to bear Nuriyev's name when the very ''flying Tatar man'', who was on tour on this stage as a conductor in May 1992, agreed. He was surprised at the quality of work of the Kazan ballet company.

The Nuriyev festival like the Shalyapin one became a world brand a long time ago. Naturally, it's constantly discussed inside they need to immortalise Rudolf Nuriyev visually too.

The Shalyapin festival became like the driver that helped to immortalise the great singer in his homeland. Photo: Roman Khasayev

''As for the calibre of the personality, it seems to me the personality of Rudolf Nuriyev can't raise doubts. This figure already occupied its place in the world. As for time, it's a legal issue.

For instance, according to our Tatarstan laws, no less than 10 years must pass after the person's death to place a memorial desk. It seems to me there isn't such a time limit concerning monuments. It took much time to place the monument to Shalyapin. To choose a place, persuade the people who make decisions into the necessity to place the monument, this all takes times in totality.

Now our mission is to approach the time of making a decision on the monument to Nuriyev. Nuriyev, on the other hand, is a part of world culture but, on the other hand, no representative of the Tatar nation has ever achieved the world fame he had,'' director of the M. Jalil Tatar State Opera and Ballet Theatre Raufal Mikhametzyanov expressed his opinion.

By the way, he was the initiator of the invitation of Nuriyev to Kazan. He personally flew to Leningrad to meet with the artist. And, as the participants of the round-table talk noticed, Mukhametzyanov could lose his chair for inviting the ''betrayer'' to the theatre, as the article ''About Betrayal of Homeland'' wasn't cancelled for Nuriyev. But the arrival of Nuriyev to Kazan became one of the bravest and most successful projects.

Monument as logical continuation of the festival

In director of the ballet company Vladimir Yakovlev's opinion, the monument to Nuriyev in Kazan is a logical continuation of the Nuriyev festival. Films are shot, plays are staged about Nuriyev now, the interest in his figure is huge. ''Now it's time to place the monument, it will be late in 50 years, it's a matter of timing,'' Yakovlev thinks. In his opinion, Kazan, which Nuriyev visited twice, in March and May 1992, has a festival, and, finally, Kazan is his mother's homeland and has the right to place a monument to the great dancer. And the monument to Nuriyev must be put close to the opera theatre.

Composer, laureate of the G. Tukay State Award of the Republic of Tatarstan Rezeda Akhiyarova offered to consider a place behind the theatre, next to the fountain. ''Whoever has a monument in Kazan, even collective characters. Didn't Nuriyev deserve a monument? It's a topical idea, and it must reach officials of the republic. An address of art workers is needed. And I believe such an address will be supported,'' thinks Akhiyarova.

In director of the ballet company Vladimir Yakovlev's opinion, the monument to Nuriyev in Kazan is a logical continuation of the Nuriyev festival. Photo: Roman Khasayev

Signers needed

Once Rezeda Akhiyarova and poet Renat Kharis had an idea to create a ballet dedicated to Nuriyev. A libretto was written. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to make the idea real. People's poet of the Republic of Tatarstan Renat Kharis, who also was a participant of the round-table talk, thinks it's time to take action, a road map needs to be created.

''Our today's round-table talk is the beginning of the road. It's the first effective step. The press should work then, as many as possible publications are needed. It's the second step. Work with public opinion is the third step. Ufa, Saint Petersburg and we are candidates for the name of Nuriyev. We need to act not to leave behind. We need to personify the name of Nuriyev in artistic characters. We need to address the president,'' thinks Renat Kharis.

Deputy director of the opera theatre Yury Larionov partially disagreed with him. He thinks the first step in placing the monument to Rudolf Nuriyev in Kazan was made as early as 1993 when the ballet festival, which didn't have a name, started to bear the name of Nuriyev first. ''We already have a non-material legacy – the festival. Now our memory of Nuriyev needs to be moulded in bronze or carved in marble,'' it's the opinion of Yury Larionov.

The participants of the round-table talk unanimously came to a conclusion that an address to the Tatarstan president was needed, art workers of the republic wouldn't refuse to sign it, of course. And not only that of Tatarstan, many media characters will put their signatures. ''Nuriyev's 85 th anniversary will be celebrated in five years. We can meet the deadline,'' Renat Kharis is sure. The second date is the 30th anniversary of the day when the Kazan fest started to bear the name of Nuriyev, it's 2022. It's two dates each of which could be a reason to place the monument.

''Nuriyev's 85 th anniversary will be celebrated in five years. We can meet the deadline,'' Renat Kharis is sure. Photo: kpfu.ru

The participants of the round-table talk hope for the understanding of the president of the republic who supports many important cultures projects for the republic. And the thought to ask Mikhail Shemyakin, who knew Nuriyev well, to create a monument didn't sound fantastical. What a fantasy? Wasn't the visit of Nuriyev to Kazan in 1992 a utopia? They ran a risk, and everything worked out.

By Tatiana Mamayeva
BashkortostanTatarstan