Bard News & Events

Press Release


Mark Primoff


Annandale-on-Hudson N.Y. – An award-winning, two-act production of Nikolai Gogol’s Revizor, or The Inspector General, will open Bard College’s second annual SummerScape Festival on July 8, with three further performances on July 9, 10, and 11. Virtually every important Russian director has staged this classic satire of officialdom and petit bourgeois obsequiousness since The Inspector Generals debut performance in 1836. This staging will be held in the Sosnoff Theater of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the PerformingArts at Bard College.

Bard SummerScape is presenting the production intact, as directed by the Alexandrinsky’s new artistic director, Valery Fokin. The production was recently awarded high honors by the Russian Festival of Performing Arts, receiving a Golden Mask Award. Alexei Devotchenko stars as the unwitting but craftily opportunistic antihero ofthe satiric work, which features an all-Russian cast. Sets and costumes are by Alexander Borovsky, and original music will be performed by Leonid Desyatnikov and his chorus, Remake. English supertitles will provide translations.

Feodor Dostoevsky went on record as saying that everything in Russian literature began with Gogol, while Vladimir Nabokov described The Inspector General as "the best play written in Russian." The Alexandrinsky’s production of this classic is at once artistically compelling, amusing, sometimes cruel, and tremendously entertaining.

Gogol receives considerable attention at this year’s SummerScape. In addition to presentations of his works ranging from these four performances of The Inspector General, there will be screenings of Russian films based on two of his stories, The Overcoat and Spirit of Evil; a marionette show inspired by his Nevsky Prospekt; and Shostakovich’s only comic opera, The Nose, based on Gogol’s satiric masterpiece and given an original production directed by Francesca Zambello.

The Inspector General, originally in five acts, takes place in a provincial town whose mayor receives word that a government inspector will soon visit to check up on the town’s officials, in the name of the Tsar. All these officials – inspector of schools, judge, superintendent of charities, postmaster, doctor, chief of police, and on down the line – panic at the news. While preening, strutting, and complimenting themselves, they decide severally and as one to "clean up their act" immediately and to present a good face to the visiting official. Soon Dobchinsky and Bobchinsky, a pair of dimwits, mistake a visiting ne’er-do-well at the local inn for the visiting Inspector, and spread the news of his premature arrival in town. The ensuing parade of petty officials before the visitor, Khlestakov, and their wooings of his hapless servant, Osip, become a hilarious romp that plays in any language and in any country. As might be expected, a new letter arrives a few minutes before the final curtain and a few minutes after Khlestakov has vanished with a purseful of "loans" from the town officials. The new letter reconfirms the imminent arrival of the real inspector and leaves the townsfolk agape, if not necessarily any wiser for their troubles.

Valery Fokin’s Alexandrinsky Theatre production of The Inspector General, has just received the "Russian Festival of Performing Arts Golden Mask" Award for best large-scale production of 2004, as announced on April 13 in Moscow. The Festival, the only one of its kind in Russia, combines all of the performing arts in productions from all over the country. The coveted awards were established in 1995 and have already become the equivalent of Broadway’s Tony or Hollywood’s Oscar. Another of this year’s SummerScape productions also won two "Golden Mask" awards this year – the Theatre Potudan’s puppet production of Nevsky Prospekt, part of Gogol’s Petersburg Tales, which will be performed from August 11-15 in Bard’s Resnick Theater Studio in the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.

Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol was born in Little Russia (now Ukraine) in 1809, the same year as Darwin, Lincoln, Mendelssohn, Poe, and Tennyson. He was sent away to school at age twelve, and though a poor student, he was something of a star in school theatricals. In 1828 he moved to St. Petersburg and soon met Alexander Pushkin, through whom he gained entrée into society. Pushkin gave his younger colleague the ideas for two of his greatest works, The Inspector General and the unfinished Dead Souls. After 1836 Gogol lived mainly abroad, favoring Rome, and became a religious mystic. He died in Moscow in 1852 having destroyed the completed text of Dead Souls (which he called a poem). St. Petersburg’s Alexandrinsky Theatre was founded in 1756, and is a descendant of Russia’s first public theater. Since 1832, its home has been a magnificent Russian Classical structure dominating the Ostrovskaya Square. Today’s Alexandrinsky, which cooperates on productions with the nearby Mariinsky, remains a symbol of both "official" art and progressive productions. Its 249th season begins soon after the 2004 SummerScape festival ends.

Further information is available on Bard College’s SummerScape web site,

Tickets go on sale Saturday May 1, 2004


Bard SummerScape

American premiere of the Alexandrinsky Theater production of

Nikolai Gogol’s masterpiece


Directed by Valery Fokin

Original score by Leonid Desyatnikov

Starring Alexei Devotchenko

Sosnoff Theater in The Richard B. Fisher Center for Performing Arts

Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson N.Y.

Thursday, July 8, 8:00 pm

Friday, July 9, 8:00 pm

Saturday, July 10, 6:00 pm

Sunday, July 11, 2:00 pm

Tickets: $55, $40, $25 All seats reserved


SummerScape contact: Mark Primoff (845) 758-7412,

21C contact: Glenn Petry (212) 625-2038,

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This event was last updated on 05-23-2005