Happy Old New Year!
by Boris “Bolero” Roginsky
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the famous song goes. And it very well may be. At least for those having ties or wishing to have ties to the Russian culture.
Yes, of course every season has something pleasant to offer to everyone. And yet, as far as I know, neither spring nor summer nor autumn offers FOUR widely celebrated holidays within the span of about three weeks to anyone else!
Since 1918 the international Russian-speaking community has been celebrating two Christmases and two New Years. While December and January are indeed the magical months primarily for those who choose to believe so, the explanation of this phenomenon should satisfy everyone — the believers and non-believers alike.
About 92 years ago the Russian government adopted the civil Gregorian Calendar, associated with the Roman Catholic Church and yet used for secular administrative purposes all over the world. However, the Russian Orthodox Church never stopped using the Julian Calendar either. Hence, since then, people have been enjoying this abundance of holidays. Hasn’t it been great? Just think of all the presents and sweets!
Now, holidays are for having fun. And each year the City of Toronto offers us plenty of ways to entertain ourselves as the passing year gets ready to let the new one take over. Since, as they claim, our city is the most multicultural one in the world, it is fabulous to be able to enjoy the diverse elements of the world culture intertwining right here. And what great opportunities those are!
The National Ballet of Canada’s production of The Nutcracker continues to be a hit. Based on the beloved story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by the German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann and set to the sublime score by the Russian composer P.I. Tchaikovsky, the performance has been enchanting audiences for over 15 years. The Canadian choreographer and librettist, James Kudelka, chose to tell the German story in the 19th-century Russian setting. And the American set and costume designer, Santo Loquasto, created such a splendid pallet of colours and texture that their richness fills a spectator with the positive energy for the whole year. Just enough to last till the next year’s performance!
And how about the Cineplex’s initiative to broadcast performances, featuring the best voices in the world from New York’s Metropolitan Opera for the third year in a row? Of course it could not be simply a coincidence that programme planners slated Les Contes d’Hoffmann with the music by Jacques Offenbach and libretto by Jules Barbier (of the German-Jewish and the French ancestry respectively) on December 19, just a few days before Christmas. The magic would not be complete without Anna Netrebko’s marvelous performance. The Russian star sang the part of Antonia and as usual charmed the audience.
So now, when it’s almost the time to take down the lights, Happy New Year to all of you! Whatever and whenever you celebrate, let 2010 bring you great health and peace within!
2010 © Boris "Bolero" Roginsky