The “2015: Year of Russia in Monaco” is a showcase of more than 140 events celebrating and paying tribute to the 150 year-old historical and cultural heritage shared by the two states.
Initiated by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco during an official visit to Moscow in 2013, the year-long celebration consists of events held on Monegasque territory, as well as initiatives aimed at showcasing the diversity of the relations that exist between Russia and Monaco, particularly at the cultural level, but also in the fields of history, education, science, economics, sport, charities, gastronomy and fashion.
Monaco became a favorite getaway for the Russian aristocracy and bourgeoisie, especially in the winter season for sea bathing, after the creation of the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo in 1863 and other luxurious hotels. However, the historical ties between the two states go back to the early 19th century during the reign of Prince Charles III of Monaco and Tsar Alexander II of the Russian Empire. The two monarchs signed a number of treaties and agreements. Alexander II was the first member of a royal family to receive the prestigious “Order of Saint-Charles” distinction established in Monaco in 1858.
The profound cultural synergy between Monaco and Russia can be traced to the early 20th century and marked the beginning of a strong presence of performing arts in the Principality. Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, which was considered the most influential ballet company of the century, performed and resided in Monaco from 1911 until Diaghilev’s death in 1929. This prestigious company was revived under many names, including the Ballet de Monte-Carlo and the Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo, which later chose the U.S. as its permanent home during World War II. The genius Diaghilev immensely influenced ballet and related arts. He worked with many artists such as dancer and choreographer Nijinski; composers Igor Stravinsky, Debussy and Prokofiev, painters Bakst, Picasso, Matisse, Dali and Ernst; writer Cocteau; and designer Coco Chanel. It is not until 1985 that Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo became the official company of the Principality of Monaco, established by H.R.H. The Princess of Hanover in accordance with the wishes of Her mother, Princess Grace of Monaco.
The “Year of Russia in Monaco” officially opened on December 19, 2014 with a performance at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco’s main arts center, by the Bolshoi Ballet of The Taming of the Shrew, a work choreographed by the Director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Jean-Christophe Maillot. This was a unique collaboration for both prestigious ballets companies – it was the first time a foreign choreographer was invited to create a ballet for the Bolshoi.
Highlights in 2015 include a variety of symphony concerts, operas and soirées, featuring the music of some of Russia’s greatest composers, such as:
§ Shostakovich opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsenskin April
§ Tchaikovsky’s Iolantain June
§ A performance by the Red Army Choir at the gala dinner of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in May
§ A concert in July held at the Princely Palace by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Monte Carlo conducted by Valery Gergiev, General and Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg
The much anticipated annual summer exhibition at the Grimaldi Forum entitled “From Chagall to Malevich, the Revolution of the Avant-Garde,”will take place from July 12 to September 6. It features major works by artists who represented the avant-garde movement in Russia from 1905 to 1930. A historical exhibition “The Grimaldi and Romanov Dynasties” at the Princely Palace, will also take place in the summer.
For those interested in historic, oceanographic and scientific findings, there will be conferences, exhibitions and conferences at theFine Art Gallery of Russian Masters, the Naval Museum, The Anthropology Museum and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.
Gourmet lovers will enjoy Monte-Carlo SBM’s“Russian Gastronomy Seasons,” a festival of flavors with Monegasque and Russian Chefs,as well as culinary specialties at many restaurants throughout the Principality.
Finally, the Port Hercule will welcome Maslenitsa in February, a traditional Russian Folkloric Carnival, and a Russian Christmas Village in December to close this plentiful and exciting year.
Each month in 2015 will be full of opportunities to discover Russian culture in a Monegasque setting.