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Kulyabinsk "Tannhäuser" on the scales of "The Master and Margarita": the court acquitted the theater on the day of the death of Bulgakov

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Kulyabinsk "Tannhäuser" on the scales of "The Master and Margarita": the court acquitted the theater on the day of the death of Bulgakov

Starnica hieromonk Dimitrii (Pershina) in the library

Seventy-five years ago, on March 10, 1940, Mikhail Bulgakov, the author of the novel The Master and Margarita, whose plot is built around a narrative that distorts the Gospel image of the Savior, died in agony. But according to the meta-story of the novel, this Tolstoyan profanation of the Gospel deprived the Master of hope for a bright eternity. And this means that we are not confronted with cryptosatanism, as other critics believe, in particular, Nikolai Gavryushin and Mikhail Dunaev, but, on the contrary, apology. In the years of militant atheism, Bulgakov "from the opposite" defended the Christian reading of the New Testament. That is why on this day, according to tradition, we served a memorial service for the writer and his wife Elena Shilovskaya.

And on the same day, but already in 2015, according to news agencies, “the proceedings of an administrative offense against the director of the Novosibirsk Opera Theater, Boris Mezdrich, were discontinued due to the lack of a composition. The court did not see in the claims of the prosecutor's office the fact of insulting the feelings of believers. Judge Ekaterina Sorokina did not find the corpus delicti in the complaints of the prosecutor’s office against Mezdrich. The judge heard the opinions of Candidate of Historical Sciences, Associate Professor of the Center for the Study of Religions of the Russian State Humanitarian University Boris Falikov and Honored Lecturer of the Moscow State University Vladimir Vinokurov, who did not see in the "Tannhäuser" the "gospel image of Jesus Christ."

Accident is the pseudonym of the Providence. As far as I was able to get acquainted with the idea of ​​the Kulyabinsk production of “Tannhäuser”, the main character in it – the creator of the dirty film about Jesus captivated by Venus – like the Master, pays for his “self-indulgence” with his career, his mind, and as a result, life itself.

You can see blasphemy here, you can – the abuse of Richard Wagner, you can – a manifesto of creative freedom. And you can also see parallels with Bulgakov's “Master and Margarita”, Goethe’s “Faust”, Gogol’s “Portrait” – with those texts that speak of the creator’s responsibility for creativity. The fact that talent wasted in the first place devastates the soul of genius. And since a holy place is never empty, this spiritual vacuum populates evil spirits.

These texts are messages of a great Christian cultural tradition, but they are addressed to a clever audience. In them, a person, be he a scholar or artist, a writer or a film director, falls into ruin, annihilating Christianity as such. And his paintings often serve as a marker of his troubles. Including those from which faith may disappear. Let me remind you that one of these paintings destroys the soul of Parfen Rogozhin in Dostoevsky's Idiot.

And therefore, we must learn to distinguish between the position of the author of the text and the outlook of his characters, to be able to read the author's attitude to his characters according to the epithets, characteristics, storylines and other clues, the task of which convey to us the main message: "People, be careful, eternity!" . In other words, in the secondary world, captured on paper or in a stage setting, as, indeed, in our, real, events may occur that offend one's feelings. The question is, what is the assessment of evil, to what does it lead its adepts?

In the gospel text, for example, we meet Satan, brazenly distorting the meaning of the psalms in order to tempt the Savior in the desert, but there we also find that the evil spirit is humiliated by Christ. The Lord returns to these verses their true meaning and finally overthrows the evil spirit by His death on Calvary. But the Gospel is not fiction – but artistic creativity, on the contrary, leads us into a world of fantasy, in which anything is possible, in order to express the essence.

That is why, according to the precise observation of Alexander Dvorkin, Bulgakovsky Yeshua Ha-Notsri is endowed with age, appearance, demeanor and even verbal turns of the “idiot” Prince Myshkin, who suffered, I remind you, a crushing fiasco, trying to preach the world with moral preaching. Thus, as Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev writes, in “The Master and Margarita” Bulgakov finished the game of Dostoevsky – Tolstoy, defending the authenticity of the canonical Gospel. But if Dostoevsky endowed Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin with the traits of Tolstoyan Jesus-moralizer, then Bulgakov, on the contrary, gave the moralizer Yeshua Ha-Notsri the traits of a Tolstoyan prince. The general conclusion of the "Idiot" and "The Master and Margarita" – in this Jesus there is no salvation. The evil of this world overwhelms any moralistic. Only God can save, Himself who has become one of us, and having risen to the Cross for our sake, in order to bestow on all of us the Resurrection.

What was the fall of the Master? In the same way the fall of Goethe's Faust is in the rejection of the main message of Christianity. Faust edits the Gospel of John. In the improved version of Faust in the beginning was not the Word, but the Deed. Thus, according to the thought of the past Stalinist camps of the philosopher Alexander Meier, for Faust, not God stands at the source of being, but human activism. But then, even for the Master, not the Word became flesh and lived with us, was crucified and resurrected on the third day, but a certain preacher Jesus was killed for his pacifism. And as soon as Faust corrupted the key lines of the Gospel that were read on Easter, Mephistopheles broke into his life. In the same way, it cost the Master to remove the divine worship of Jesus from the Gospel, turn the Savior into a walking set of Tolstoyan cliches, as Woland appeared behind his new servant in red Moscow. Thus, Goethe and Bulgakov talk about one thing: an experiment with the meanings of the Gospel can break life and erase eternity. Is it not the same warning that the Kulyabinsk production of “Tannhäuser” is trying to convey to us (I do not consider here the question of the artistic value of this production)?

If you go back to Bulgakov, it is worth noting that in his novel, God does not leave His children. Margarita was given to see in a dream, where the chosen path would lead them to her lover – to Svidrigailov's spider bath, located in a hopeless, dreary spring locality, characterized by a “silent flock of rooks” and intolerable melancholy that brought to suicidal thoughts. And as it turns out in the final of the novel, it is “soundlessness” that precedes the eternity that Woland prepared for the Master and Margarita. And the master does not receive any peace that the literary Yeshua Ha-Notsri asked Woland for his creator: being in his afterlife Ivan, he still "looks around fearfully" led by the hand of a witch. And to call such an end happy is just as impossible as to extract Kant from places far more distant than Solovki. The last remark is valid in the case of Woland, whose claws do not reach out to Kant, who formulated the sixth proof of God's existence, while his bastard – half-rotten murderers, pimps, traitors – Woland easily dragged from the fireplace to the ball.

I would like to stress once more: Yeshua Ha-Notsri Woland pleads through the mouth of Levi Matthias, whose prototype was just Parfen Rogozhin, precisely because he is a literary hero. Both Yeshua and Levi are but the imagination of the Master. That is why they have not the slightest authority over Satan. That is why Woland mocks them both. In the same place, where faith in Christ the Savior lurks, we see the genuine fear of Azazello, who with his back felt the sign of the cross, which the old cook wanted to impose on herself. Of course, there are few such obvious "moments of truth" in the novel. The task of "The Master and Margarita" was to go through the ideological filters of the Soviet censorship to the thinking reader, who possesses all the richness of Christian culture and is able to figure out what was happening.

Nowadays, books and stage performances also have to wade through the cult of consumption and hedonism, through the indifference of a person to his inner world, to his eternal fate.

Does this mean that the Kulyabinsk production does not hurt anyone's feelings, that it is flawless? By no means. But that in it the theme significant for Goethe, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov and many other authors was taken up, undoubtedly. Has the Novosibirsk theater been able to uncover this topic? This is a question for art historians and theater critics, to which I do not belong. However, I note that, according to the word of the wise Gamaliel, since this matter is not of God, it will crumble to dust, but if there is a search and thought, talent and skill, it will leave its mark in Russian culture of the beginning of the third millennium.

But as long as we are called upon to see not the worst, but the best in the intentions and actions of other people, guided by the presumption of innocence, we would like to hope that by putting “Tannhäuser” based on “Tannhäuser” and criticizing this dramatic experiment, we will not lose that we are in a dialogue with God at any given time about our eternal fate. And it depends only on us whether this eternity will be Easter, for the Lord has ascended to the Cross for us all.

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