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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

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although thesand sculptures at the Peter and Paul Fortress are more centrally located and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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