Bryn Terfel and Valery Gergiev

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Gergiev is the Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Opera - formerly known as the Kirov - and regarded as one of the world's leading conductors. He's certainly one who believes in giving audiences their money's worth in a concert. None of the showbiz maxim of 'leave them wanting more' as the Opera Gala proved.

That's no comment on the standard of performance, rather the enormous amount of material Gergiev crams into the programme as the first half boasted three orchestral pieces and six operatic arias, including the final scene of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.

The second half was the whole of Act III of Wagner's opera, Die Walkure with Bryn as a towering ruler of the gods, Wotan. With eight Valkyries from the Mariinsky Opera giving it serious Wagnerian wellie, you could almost feel the helicopters in the film Apocalypse Now whirring overhead!

Night 2 of the Mariinsky weekend was very Russian - a Tchaikovsky fest that, again, gave music lovers a concert on a large scale. First half, just the orchestra with the score of the ballet, The Nutcracker and then joined by the singers for a concert performance of the one act opera, Iolanta.

Those two nights would be tiring for most conductors (and performers) but Valery Gergiev proved his legendary stamina by scheduling Night 3 as a performance of Verdi's Requiem. I'll come clean - I couldn't go to that one as I needed to re-introduce myself to my family and thought I'd better catch up on things domestic!

As for the two concerts I did attend - they certainly started a season of celebration in truly international style. It's a huge privilege to see two musicians at the top of their game working together and sharing admiration and respect.

Interviewing both Bryn and Maestro Gergiev about it revealed that they really like each other too. In fact, it turned into a bit of a love-in as both claimed the other had more drive, energy and stamina!

Importantly though, there are ongoing links between Wales Millennium Centre and the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. Last year, when WMC wasn't even five years old and the Russian theatre was celebrating its 225th anniversary, a five year strategic partnership agreement was signed between them.

That guarantees that Wales should be seeing regular visits from the ballet and opera companies in the future and if Maestro Gergiev's on the conductor's podium, prepare for an exciting musical marathon.

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