Siberian Seasons in Tobolsk continued with the Taffy concert and show

27 february 2023

Taffy, a literary and musical show, premiered on February 27 at the Ershov Tobolsk Drama Theater. The play and concert’s premiere featuring Russian theater and film star and actress Evgeniya Dobrovolskaya is a part of the Siberian Seasons in Tobolsk cultural project that is being implemented within the framework of the Formula for Good Deeds, SIBUR's social investment program, and the trilateral agreement between the company, the Moscow City Government, and the Government of Tyumen Oblast.

As part of the Siberian Seasons in Tobolsk project, the new literary and musical show entitled Taffy was staged at the Ershov Tobolsk Drama Theater featuring selected stories by Nadezhda Taffy narrated by People's Artist of Russia Evgeniya Dobrovolskaya and several miniature chamber pieces for violin, piano and accordion performed by violinist Elena Revich, Honored Artist of Russia, and soloists Yury Panov and Nikolay Sivchuk, winners of numerous international competitions.

It is great to realize that the Siberian Seasons in Tobolsk project launched in 2023 will not only serve cultural and entertainment purposes, but will also be educational starting with the very first performance of Taffy, that we all enjoyed so much today. Everyone who gets to enjoy these literary and musical performances will definitely want to open one a book, re-read it, and immerse themselves in the world and creative fantasies of the authors whose stories they will have seen on stage, Elena Belskaya, Head of ZapSibNeftekhim’s Department of Government Relations and Socio-Economic Projects, commented.

We would like to thank SIBUR for bringing to our city yet another wonderful project. This time it’s the Siberian Seasons in Tobolsk which will be delighting us with their unique theatrical performances and other interesting productions throughout the entire year. Today I derived a true aesthetic pleasure out of what I witnessed on the theater’s stage, and of course I was able to get fully immersed into the play’s extraordinary atmosphere that will undoubtedly leave a mark in the hearts of Tobolsk’s residents, Anastasia Ionina, Director of the Culture and Tourism Department at the Tobolsk City Administration, noted.

"Russian literature inimitable phenomenon, a genuine marvel!" This was the description that poet and writer Georgy Ivanov gave Taffy, or Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya [1872, St. Petersburg - 1952, Paris], better known otherwise as just Taffy. Her vibrant talent manifested itself in her prose, and, despite the fact that she started out as a poet, she went on to gain a truly nationwide, and later international, renown as a writer. Although Taffy is considered a humorist, a comic writer, most of her stories are marked by a touch of sadness, and are sometimes outright somber. She imbued her literary works with a slight feel of smile-inducing lightness, and some kind of elegant irony. As she once put it herself, her inner self is "soaked with unshed tears, and they all remain inside”.

Among those who were inspired by the author’s works was Russia’s Emperor Nicholas II, who remained a loyal admirer of her talent until the end of his life. When a collection of literary works dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the Romanov’s ascension to the throne was being compiled, the emperor insisted that Taffy’s prose be included in it. He even cried out: "Taffy! Definitely her!" It is said that during their long and dramatic exile in Tobolsk the royal family spent a lot of their time rereading their favorite stories written by Taffy.

Thanks to Taffy's stories being as human-centered as they are and to the very personal intonation and unique focus of their interpretation by actress Evgeniya Dobrovolskaya, the time distance to that era nearly goes away allowing her characters to stay perpetually vivid and her stories remain as relevant as before.

The core of the program is comprised of short stories penned by the brilliant Russian writer and poet Nadezhda Taffy: "Doctor Korobka”, "Fine Light Painting”, "Repentant Fate”, "About Tenderness”, "Caught in the Net of Logic”, "A Woman's Moiety" and other texts. They are complemented by chamber musical pieces steeped in the aura of the era that add to the spirit of the genre, style, and intonation of Taffy's prose. The texts and the music used in the show are accompanied by a video sequence of archival photographs, newsreel clips, and replica artwork including urban landscapes, portrait paintings, and works of graphics dating back to the early 20th century.

The prose of Nadezhda Taffy used in the show was recited by actress Yevgeniya Dobrovolskaya, People's Artist of Russia, who is a part of the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater’s company. Her performance was artfully augmented by a trio of excellent Russian soloists, including Merited Artist of Russia Yelena Revich (violin), and winners of international contests Yury Panov (piano) and Nikolay Sivchuk (accordion). The show’s musical fabric includes pieces and bits of works by Arensky, Glinka, Dvorak, Brahms, Schumann, Kreisler, Massenet, Gardel, and other composers.

The show and concert, co-written by actress Evgenia Dobrovolskaya and violinist Elena Revich, curator of music programs, is dedicated to Taffy’s 150th anniversary that was celebrated in 2022.
The idea for this program came to us three years ago, we nurtured it, put it together, played with its dramatic compositions, added texts, tried different kinds of musical scores, and finally presented it for the first time on the grand stage here in Tobolsk. And we are indeed very grateful to those who invited us to Tobolsk: the curators and organizers of the Siberian Seasons project, to SIBUR, and of course to the hospitable and cozy Ershov Theatre. We are delighted that the audience responded to our program so keenly, so warmly and with such precision, reacted to our texts, to the music, was eager to keep listening, and that we were able to become as one with our audience, breathing together, laughing together, and weeping together. One could say it was a joint performance: not just the unity of the cast but also a union with the audience, the show’s co-authors Elena Revich and Yevgenia Dobrovolskaya noted.

It was a very warm and sincere performance. That was my first time experiencing a performance given by Evgeniya, and her voice that was accompanied so nicely by the violin, the accordion and the piano, all of it was just so beautiful. I was in such an elevated mood after the show. It was a great pleasure to attend the recital. And I fell in love with Taffy’s prose. I hadn't really been that familiar with her work before, and now I want to go back and reread her stories. One of the stories really resonated with me. It was great, I'm really in awe, Ariadna Tobolyakova shared her impressions.