In July 2002, the works of Georgian director and writer Rezo Gabriadze made their New York debut at the Lincoln Center Festival, with rotating performances of The Battle of Stalingrad and Autumn of My Springtime, marionette works that sold out and earned rave reviews, becoming a kind of stealth sensation.
The Lincoln Center Festival this summer welcomed back The Battle of Stalingrad: A Requiem, marking a third New York appearance for Gabriadze. (His Forbidden Christmas, or The Doctor and the Patient played in 2004, with Mikhail Baryshnikov in the lead).
Stalingrad is an intimately scaled marionette work that spans the years 1937-43 and is set in Moscow, Kiev, Berlin and Stalingrad. Gabriadze’s forte is the perfect visual metaphor, with doll-sized figures and tiny objects used to create an emotionally resonant tableau, enhanced by the sensitive work of five performers. The Russian voices that accompanied the puppetry were recorded with naturalistic emotion, and woven together with a soundtrack of Shostakovich, Offenbach, and folk music.
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Pamela Renner is a cultural journalist who was a 2007-2008 Fulbright Scholar in arts reporting in Tbilisi.