Ballet, opera, tourism and trade – To Cyprus from Russia with love!

If the vibes are ‘kind of blue’ in the Caprice Restaurant these days it’s because, on a still warm Mediterranean night in early autumn, you’ll be catching some of those cool Jazz sounds. Throughout 2017, Londa Hotel has been presenting a series of Jazz concerts featuring an ensemble of nimble-fingered musicians hailing from Cyprus and Russia.

From as far back as the 14th century Russia has enjoyed a long cordial history with Cyprus, more recently exporting agricultural products and importing military equipment to Russia during the Soviet era. The relationship drew ever closer when the Russian community began migrating to Cyprus in significant numbers in the late 1990s, and are also now the second largest number of tourists to visit the island every year.

Just in August 2017 alone, of the 523,650 total recorded visitors, nearly a quarter (119,820) were Russian holidaymakers, following the UK with more than a third (185,831) of visitors (Cyprus Statistical Service). There are around 40,000 Russians who have also made Cyprus their home, of which 75 per cent live in Limassol. The district now has three Russian schools with some 600 students, two nurseries and 20 educational centres.

It’s not surprising that the Cyprus cultural experience is never complete without regular visits from prestigious Russian ballet companies and musicians who present a dazzling array of classic and contemporary works…

Prestigious Russian ballet companies and musicians

In February 2017, a Russian Opera Gala was dedicated to Valentine’s Day. The following month, Limassol’s Pattihio Theatre presented the Russian Ballet performing masterpieces of classic and modern choreography, such as Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Spartacus and Zorba The Greek. In June the 12th Cyprus Russian Festival took place over two days in Limassol Municipal Gardens, featuring around 1,500 actors, dancers and singers from both countries in the closest cultural collaboration to date, set across three stages. In August, multi award-winning, Svetlana Zakharova, Prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theatre performed ‘Amore’ – an exploration in dance in both classic and contemporary styles – at the Municipal Gardens Theatre.

One of the most glittering cultural events in the Cyprus calendar, the 11th Cyprus-Russia Gala, which takes place at the Presidential Palace, Nicosia on Sunday 15th October. The annual event, to be attended by Andri Anastasiadis, First Lady of the Republic of Cyprus, is dedicated to the cultural, political and business relations between Cyprus and Russia. Performers include the ‘People’s Artist of Russia’, singers from the Moscow Danilov Monastery Choir, dancers from the Vienna State Ballet, and Kostis Maraveyas, a popular songwriter and performer of modern Greek music.

The First Lady is also to make an appearance at the Limassol Rialto in November for a concert of musical portraits from the Russian romantic and post-war era, presented in collaboration with distinguished Cypriot soprano Zoe Nicolaidou and Russian pianists Elina Linchevskaya and Zbynek Maruska. The programme features the most popular masterpieces of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Gavrilin.

Cyprus has also enjoyed a long trading tradition with Russia, not least because of the strategic location of Cyprus at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, and proximity to the Suez Canal. At the 9th Summit of the Cyprus-Russian Intergovernmental Committee on Economic Cooperation 2016, a special mention was made to the growth of tourism between the two states.

40 handmade wooden models of Greek ships

As an island nation, merchant shipping has long been of great importance to forging international trade relationships, such as Cyprus continues to enjoy with Russia. An exhibition entitled “Voyage: Greek Shipbuilding and Seafaring from Antiquity to Modern times”, presents the history of Greek seafaring in the Aegean and the Mediterranean at the Limassol Old Port between the 10th of October and the 5th of November. On display are nautical instruments, maps, video projections, explanatory drawings and other fascinating maritime artefacts.

A special showcase is 40 handmade wooden models of Greek ships which recount the history of maritime voyages, achievements in naval architecture, and the exchange of ideas and technological developments. Each vessel is created in immaculate detail, based on original naval architectural drawings, using authentic materials and following traditional building methods.

One section of the exhibition is devoted to the ‘Antikythera mechanism’ – a Greek analogue computer and orrery (mechanical model of the solar system) dating back to the middle of the 1st century, which was used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses, among many other time-keeping functions. Fragments of the mechanism were discovered by divers near the island of Antikythera near Crete in 1901, and has been kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens ever since. The size of a shoebox, the mechanism contains at least 30 bronze gears in a wooden container, which could also track the four-year cycle of athletic games similar to the cycle of the ancient Olympic Games.

From Moscow to Limassol, culture, trade and time itself continues to intrigue and inspire during the autumn months, providing immersive experiences for the adventurous visitor. The journey begins with Jazz at the Londa… where it ends – who or what can ever predict? Just like a Russian doll, the discoveries are revealed one by one…