Stage Russia HD — which brings high-quality filmed performances from the Russian stage to audiences around the world — is moving into new genres and media with its fourth season. This year, for the first time, its offerings include not just filmed stage performances but also two cinematic films: the animated biopic Rezo about renowned screenwriter and puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze, and the documentary Force of Nature Natalia about top ballerina Natalia Osipova. As Stage Russia HD founder Eddie Aronoff explains, this move felt natural, even serendipitous:

In the case of Rezo, we reached out to the Gabiadzes about the possibility of filming one of their puppet theatre productions. In the process of that a conversation ensued involving distributing their wonderful animated film that Rezo and his son Leo had created. After seeing a screener of it, I jumped at the opportunity. As for Force of Nature, we’re venturing out into ballet for the first time this season with Boris Eifman’s Brothers Karamazov, so when I saw that Justine Waddell, an extremely talented woman behind the project Kino Klassica, was producing a documentary featuring Natalia Osipova, it seemed like a natural fit for us. We originally considered releasing these films as part of a new distribution arm, just to separate them out from our filmed stagings, but I realized they all kind of worked together nicely, and decided to expand the scope of our project more or less on the fly.

Joining these new ventures are two works from theatres and directors already beloved among Stage Russia HD audiences. Opening in cinemas on October 5 is the visually stunning Count Orlov Musical, a big-budget musical from the Moscow Operetta theatre (whose Anna Karenina Musical wowed audiences last season), brought to the screen in partnership with Vault International Productions of South Korea. With libretto by July Kim and music by Roman Ignatyev, the dazzling musical brings to life a story of intrigue in the court of Catherine the Great. And in January, Stage Russia HD opens a third production from Timofey Kulyabin of Novosibirsk’s Red Torch Theatre, whose Onegin and Three Sisters were featured in previous seasons. About Kulyabin’s appeal, Aronoff notes,

Timofey, for starters, is incredibly prolific, so there’s always something new and unique available to us. But more than that, these are his films, the ones we’re presenting, shot by his team, overseen by him every step of the way. We love working closely with stage directors on the filmed performances. Butusov, Ginkas and Zhenovach, for example, spent hours upon hours with us, making sure we achieved not just a filmed version of their creations, but, in fact, a true cinematic experience. Children of the Sun, this year’s Kulyabin production, beautifully integrates elements of film into the stage play in a way that is completely different than if you were watching it live in a theatre.

In addition to all these new offerings, Stage Russia HD continues to offer encore screenings from prior seasons. And they’re already at work on new collaborations for the spring offerings. For Aronoff and the Stage Russia HD team, this work is a labor of love, a chance to bring inspiring and evocative art to wider audiences.

Stage Russia HD’s full fall/winter offerings are: the animated biopic Rezo (late August); Moscow Operetta Theatre’s Count Orlov Musical (October); Eifman Ballet’s Brothers Karamazov (November); the documentary Force of Nature Natalia (December); and Red Torch Theatre’s Children of the Sun (January). Find trailers, screening dates, and more at https://www.stagerussia.com/program.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.