“Tango White Nights”
State Academic Acapella Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
17 June 2008
by Catherine Pawlick
As part of the “Tango White NIghts” performances held at the State Academic Acapella Theatre on Moika just outside Palace Square, several talented musicians teamed up with one very talented ballet dancer, bringing vibrancy to several hours’ worth of spicy Latino tango selections.
Produced by Kirill Zubarev, “Tango White Nights” features Piatsolli’s vocal-instrumental ensemble called “Tango Paris Tres”, which includes Mario Durand Sutyev, a spicy Latino-Russian soloist whose violin playing puts others to shame, and whose Argentinean pronunciation lends a perfect Southern flavor to all of the Latino pieces that he sang. Yuri Medianik played the bayan, Polina Kondratova the piano, and Mikhail Khoklov the bass.
The ensemble presented their wares twice, on June 17 and June 26. Most of the pieces were Tango themes, many of them familiar to the audience from film or movies. Several pieces included visual accompaniment provided by Anton Labunskas’ dancing. The Russian dancer gave a modern improvisational movement to some of the Tango pieces, incorporating a rose and flirtation with the pianist on stage as he undulated in the small onstage space. With dark curls hanging in his eyes, jazz pants and a red shirt loosely clothing his torso, Labunskas epitomized the Latin Lover, filling the stage with smouldering passion and high energy leaps.
For those who haven’t attended it before, the Acapella Theatre is a beautiful, small hall with gold paint trimming expansive beige and white walls. A set of polished silver organ pipes sits far upstage, and the stage itself comprises just enough space for a grand piano and several other musical instruments, with a single stair and second “level” between the stage area and the organ. Sunlight streams in from stained glass windows near what would be a third story in a normal building. The hall itself is airy, and breezy, an inspiring space in which to watch such an electric performance.
“Tango White Nights” is an unexpected evening of excitement and hot Argentinean energy in what has been a historically cool Petersburg summer. It’s a performance worth seeing and worth repeating every summer.