Jesters’ Wedding. Malta’s first ice show production
Court intrigues, love and world-class ice-skating stars in a show dedicated to one of the most mysterious episodes in Russian history during the reign of Empress Anna Ioannovna. “Jesters’ Wedding”, the first ice show in Malta’s history, will premiere on the island on 13 December 2019. This show is an adaptation of the “Crystal Palace” ballet to the music of Alexey Shor, a contemporary American-Maltese composer. How is the unique festival of ice and music created? The organisers of the fairy tale on ice speak about the details of preparing the show.
project technical director, is in charge of the overall preparations for the entire event: lighting, sound, the ice, setting up the platform … In a word, he transforms the organisers’ innovative ideas into reality:
“My company has, for several years, been preparing large-scale events and I can confidently say that the platform we are creating for the ice show that is shortly to become one of Malta’s major events is 55 metres wide and 60 metres long. It will accommodate the sets, the revolving stage for the opera diva, the ice field, audience seating and lighting equipment. Fourteen companies are involved in the preparations. Over 70 people in total will work on the platform at different times. It will take a month to build the entire complex. The ice surface will be installed over five days. Four refrigerators will be used to prepare the ice area, the ice will be installed in layers and we will ultimately have over ten centimetres of ice.
Specialists from Germany will come to work on the ice surface. Several trailer trucks will transport the requisite equipment. At the same time, even more trailer trucks will set out from Russia carrying stage sets for the show, while our local team will be preparing the platform with all the necessary utilities.
“The auditorium” will seat over 1,000 people. So, we will have one of Malta’s largest platforms, lighting, sets with an abundance of complex elements and, certainly, the ice… Preparing such a large-scale project is an incredible experience for us. This is a great inspiration for everyone working on the show!”
2002 Olympic champion, four-time World champion, three-time European champion, two-time World Professional champion, World Junior Champion, participant in and host of famous TV shows (“Stars on Ice”, “The Ice Age”, Bolero dance show), actor, host of TV programmes on the Living Planet, Channel One, Match TV, TNT Belarus TV channels, a regular on Ilya Averbukh’s ice show.
“Malta will see me as Balakirev. He is a court jester. But… every jest contains a grain of truth. And Anna Ioannovna herself marks her jester’s words. Balakirev can do as he pleases. He lords it over the other jesters. In today’s parlance, he is the boss. I like this part because it’s so contradictory: my character can act like a clown, doing things few people are allowed to. At the same time, he is part of the Empress’s inner circle: to some degree, he has influence over everything that goes on in the country. Alexey Shor wrote classical ballet music and, transferring it on to ice is a terrific challenge. Our task is to keep the audience on the edge of their seats from the word go until the final note. And we are doing absolutely everything to achieve just that, including providing unique sets, costumes and special effects. This will be a riot of colours bolstering the effects of the music! After all our ice shows, “Romeo and Juliet,” “Carmen,” and others, we want to do something even better each time…”
Vadim Volya and Olga-Maria Tumakova
costume designers, “Golden Mask” award winners, are inspired by the music and paintings to create the most stunning costumes for the ice show:
“When working on the costumes for the ‘Jesters’ Wedding’ ice show on Malta, the key thing for us is to create the historical context. We depict the age of Anna Ioannovna and we need the audience to understand it. We used paintings as our inspiration. We did this because the audiences mostly know the baroque esthetics that define the period from contemporary paintings. Of course, we will have to do without crinolines, for instance, because they are not particularly compatible with the skaters’ consummate proficiency! Wigs and makeup are also a problem in this respect but we will have some wigs.
An important feature of ice show costumes is they need to be easily transformable. Skates prevent skaters from changing fully: the skates always stay on because there is no time to re-lace them! So some costume elements are taken off and put on to create a new image each and every time.
The music for the show certainly inspires us in designing the costumes. It is very important that we perceive the work as an integral whole, particularly its musical component. We are making several dozen costumes for the ice show, and each must be a work of art.”
Set designer for the “Jesters’ Wedding” ice show,
“In designing the sets for Ilya Averbukh’s ‘Jesters’ Wedding’ ice show, I was guided both by the historical materials from Empress Anna Ioannovna’s reign and by Alexey Shor’s music for ‘Crystal Palace.’
Our creative group studied the recording of the ballet’s performance at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow and we made adjustments for the entirely different speed and choreography of the emotions and actions on ice.
A careful study was made of materials about the coronation of Empress Anna, about her relations with the members of the imperial court, the aristocracy, and the contributions made to development of opera and ballet at the time.
The contemporary interpretations of the Triumphal Arch celebrating Anna Ioannovna’s coronation and of the 1740 Ice Palace in St. Petersburg, built on the orders of the Empress, were created on the basis of historical engravings and descriptions.
The central part of the set is Anna Ioannovna’s crown, designed like a Faberge egg: it has a mechanism that allows it to open and close. It serves as a symbolic association with St. Petersburg and, together with the revolving platform, is used to mark the change of scenes in the show. At the same time, the crown that opens and closes with Anna Ioannovna inside, like a puppet, is an interpretation of the image of the Empress trapped by her own power.
The intrigues of the jesters and their impact on political events are a separate topic. The sets feature a composition that represents an arch with gigantic arms springing from jesters’ hats and meant to pull the strings of the puppet. As the show goes on, the question remains: who rules whom? Does Anna rule the jesters or do they rule her?”