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In the spotlight

Published: November 23, 2007 (Issue # 1326)




  • Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

This week, Ogonyok and Russian Newsweek magazines took a pop at the feeble state of the Russian music industry, or specifically the singers penchant for lip-synching and the producers penchant for switching the lineup of their girl groups a musical genre that one described as singing knickers.

The poster boy for Ogonyoks article on lip-synching was old-stager Filipp Kirkorov, pictured in a fetching pair of high-waisted silver trousers. He wont be particularly pleased, since he starts a nine-day residency at the Operetta Theater this week, celebrating his 25-year-long career in show business, at least some of which has presumably involved singing. However, he is quoted in the magazine protesting a recent decision by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov not to pay performers who lip-synch at municipal events. Thats all very well, he says, but the city authorities wont stump up for the sound equipment needed for live performances

The magazine reprints a quote that Kirkorov originally gave to RIA-Novosti in October, where he said that he usually has to do municipal concerts at venues that only have a mini-disc player and a remote where half the buttons dont work. Anyone who has experienced City Day, when the greatest hits of Zolotoye Koltso reverberate ear-bleedingly over Tverskaya Ulitsa, would suspect that this is true, although surely more Kirkorov-friendly venues such as the Kremlin Palace have at least some working microphones. For the record, though, Kirkorov did tell RIA-Novosti that hell sing live at the Operetta Theater.

The Ogonyok article had some nice stories about the illustrious history of lip-synching in Russia. A sound-man who worked with Laskovy Mai, a group popular in the late 1980s, recalled that the group had a recorded soundtrack that even included comments to the crowd such as I cant see your hands! and Everyone says that we lip-synch, but you can see that its not true. Another Soviet-era group, Mirazh, had four or five different lineups of attractive, but similar-looking girls, who toured provincial cities at the same time, miming to the same songs.

When it comes to girl groups, the rules should be relaxed, the producer of bikini-clad quintet Strelki, Igor Selivesterov, told Ogonyok, explaining that a blanket ban on lip-synching would be like saying Andy Warhol isnt an artist because he didnt draw like [Russian artist Ivan] Shishkin. All the girls in Strelki actually sing on their recorded soundtrack, he boasted, but on stage theyve got better things to do, like dancing and showing off their sequins. People call this genre singing knickers and I dont see anything insulting in that, he summed up.

As long as the elastic holds up, the producers of such groups can change the lineup as often as they like, Russian Newsweek wrote. Subtly named girl group VIA Gra has had nine changes of lineup in its 7-year history, while everyone has given up counting with Blestyashchiye and Strelki. None of the original members are left in Blestyashchiye some left to marry rich, others such as Anna Semenyovich, to appear on every second television show but no one in the audience asks for his money back, said music agency director Tabriz Shakhidi, who books Blestyashchiye among others. The group is very popular and successful.

Interestingly, Blestyashchiye has even become a dynasty, with the younger sister of one of its most famous alumni, Zhanna Friske, joining the group in October. Natalya Friske, a 21-year-old law student, is lucky enough to enjoy the full support of her sister, who has since gone on to a solo career and reality shows. Friske Senior told 7 Dnei magazine that I hope she has enough brains not to give up her studies.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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