Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zhenovach Snatches 4 Golden Mask Awards

For MTZhenovach holding a Golden Mask award Saturday at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater.
The founder of a theater that is less than two years old balanced out the elegant, if often rambling, Golden Mask ceremony on Saturday evening. Were it not for Sergei Zhenovach, one of the biggest winners at the 13th annual theater awards would have been None of the Above.

Italian actor Ferruccio Soleri stunned many and delighted many more in the ceremony's waning moments, when in quick succession he announced that two of Zhenovach's productions had been selected best shows of the 2005-06 season in their categories -- best small-scale drama and best large-scale drama. It was the first time in the history of the Golden Mask that a director had shows win in both categories, and it brought to four the number of awards claimed by Zhenovach, his productions or his actors.

Until that coup, the magic number had been three, shared by the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater and the Mariinsky Theater.

Shadowing them, however, was the rather embarrassing fact that no winner was named in three categories -- director of a puppet show, director of an operetta or musical, and best contemporary dance production. Announcing the lack of a dance winner to scattered gasps and chuckles, U.S. choreographer John Neumeier shrugged his shoulders and said in English, "Bad news. No prize."

Zhenovach was named best director for his work on "A Family in Decline" for his Studio of Theatrical Art, a troupe of recently graduated actors that began performing professionally in 2005. "Family" was honored as best small-scale show, while Zhenovach's production of "The Imaginary Invalid" for the Maly Theater was tapped best large-scale show. Zhenovach's young actress Maria Shashlova was given a special jury prize for her performance in "A Family in Decline."

Awards were made for productions that premiered from September 2005 to August 2006. The presenters were prominent theater artists from the West, including Soleri, Neumeier, Britain's Declan Donnellan, Georgia's Rezo Gabriadze and Poland's Krystian Lupa. Winners were held to short acceptance speeches, but presenters were encouraged to share their experiences and thoughts on Russian theater at length. This led to the ceremony being one of the longest in recent memory. Commencing fashionably late around 7:30 p.m., it ended shortly before 11 p.m.

The night was filled with surprises and a handful of poignant moments. Alexander Borovsky accepted an award posthumously for his father, David Borovsky, who was named best designer in a drama for "King Lear" by the Maly Drama Theater of St. Petersburg. Alexander, himself a past Golden Mask winner, said, "I don't know what to say," before being overcome by emotion and excusing himself from the stage.

Accepting the award for best actress in an opera in the Novaya Opera's "Norma," Tatyana Pechnikova disclosed that her father had died days before the Golden Mask jury attended her performance, and she had not been sure she could go on.

On the brighter side, Yevgeny Mironov dedicated his best dramatic actor award for his performance in "The Golovlyov Family" at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater to his mother, who celebrated her birthday the night before.

Accepting her award for best dramatic actress in "Phaedra" at the Theater of Nations, Maria Mironova, who is not related to Yevgeny Mironov, admitted that she was unprepared because she had been rooting for another actress.

A surprise in the musical categories was the naming of "Cinderella" by the Novosibirsk Theater of Opera and Ballet as best ballet. Among others, it beat out two nominees each from the Bolshoi Theater and the Mariinsky. The director of "Cinderella," Teodor Kurentzis, was given a special jury award.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the night was the strong showing of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater, which hosted the festivities in its splendid new large auditorium. The theater's production of "Cosi Fan Tutte" featured three winners in the opera category: Volf Gorelik as best conductor, Vladimir Arefyev as best designer and Alexander Titel as best director. This was seen by many as an indication that the Stanislavsky is back in action after several years of reconstruction.

Vladimir Lupovskoy / For MT
Gergiev accepting a Golden Mask from Donnellan for "The Turn of the Screw."
One of the night's biggest laughs came as Donnellan presented Valery Gergiev with the best opera plaque for "The Turn of the Screw" at the Mariinsky. Expecting Gergiev to appear from the stalls, the British director nearly fell over in mock fright when Gergiev suddenly loomed up behind him. Gergiev was on stage all night conducting the Mariinsky orchestra in musical interludes and fanfares. Maintaining its perennial prowess at the Golden Mask, the Mariinsky also pulled down two awards in the field of ballet: Andrei Ivanov was named best male dancer in "The Overcoat" and Yevgenia Obraztsova was designated best female dancer in "Ondine."

Representing the Bolshoi Theater, Alexei Ratmansky was declared best choreographer of a ballet for "The Card Game" and Florian Boesch was honored as best male actor in an opera for "The Magic Flute."

Moscow theaters or artists took home 14 awards while their counterparts from St. Petersburg won eight. Four regional theaters won six awards, with Petrozavodsk and Chelyabinsk receiving one each and Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg taking two each. Yekaterinburg's Theater of Musical Comedy won Best Operetta for "Figaro."

Among the other awards:

• Innovation Award: "Ketsal," Derevo Theater, St. Petersburg and Dresden, Germany;

• Best Actor in a Puppet Show: Lyubov Biryukova in "Golden Lions," Karelia Republic Puppet Theater, Petrozavodsk;

• Best Designer of a Puppet Show: Anna Viktorova for "Robin Bobin," Kukolny Format Theater, St. Petersburg;

• Best Puppet Show: "Robin Bobin," Kukolny Format Theater, St. Petersburg;

• Best Male Performer in an Operetta/Musical: Alexander Babenko in "Mowgli," Operetta Theater, Moscow;

• Best Female Performer in an Operetta/Musical: Yelena Kostyukova in "Figaro," Theater of Musical Comedy, Yekaterinburg;

• Special Jury Award, Musical Theater: Maxim Aksyonov in "The Queen of Spades," Chelyabinsk Theater of Opera and Ballet;

• Special Jury Award, Drama: Pyotr Semak in "King Lear," Maly Drama Theater, St. Petersburg;

• Critic's Prize: "The Story of the Seven Who Were Hanged," Tabakov Theater, Moscow.

Raymond Stults contributed to this report.