The great ones joke: how Mstislav Rostropovich masterfully played the hero of the dayBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/the-great-ones-joke-how-mstislav-rostropovich-masterfully-played-the-hero-of-the-day
The composer and cellist Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich had a great sense of humor and loved good jokes. The musician always came up with practical jokes himself and then could wait for years when the opportunity to implement them turned up. One of them he saved for his friend, the American violinist Isaac Stern, who, although he appreciated the humor, was slightly offended by the old comrade.
In 1990, Isaac Stern celebrated his 70th birthday and, of course, Rostropovich was among the guests. The organizers of the event offered the musician not only to become a guest, but also to take part in the solemn congratulations of the hero of the day. The master agreed on one condition – his arrival will be a surprise for the hero of the occasion, and it will be officially announced that Mstislav Leopoldovich could not come.
The script of the joke instantly matured in the brilliant head of Rostropovich and he only asked him to play along a little. The musician arrived in the United States secretly and in advance, after which he asked to send a dressmaker from the theater and a master for making pointe shoes – ballet shoes-to his hotel room.
The organizers were at a loss, but they did exactly what the musician asked. At the hotel, the masters took the composer's measurements and received an order for a ballet tutu and tights, pointe shoes of 43 sizes and a set of accessories – a tiara and a headdress made of white feathers.
According to the plan of the people who organized the event, at the beginning of the concert, the American actor Gregory Peck was to perform with a story about the touching story of the hero of the day's acquaintance with his wife Vera. After that, Rostropovich was to perform Saint-Saens ' "Swan" from his suite "Carnival of Animals"on the cello, accompanied by the orchestra.
Gregory Peck in his speech compared Vera to a white swan, using romantic phrases: "And he saw this white swan.... And he fell in love with him… And united with him for the rest of his life." Immediately after that, the cello was supposed to sound like a lyrical continuation of the story.
But Rostropovich outplayed everything. He met with the musicians from the orchestra and discussed the role of each of them in advance. The pianist who played the intro from "The Swan" had to play his part in a circle until he heard that the cello had entered. The master's instrument itself had to be prepared on the stage in advance.
Mstislav Leopoldovich liked to do everything conscientiously, so he arrived at the theater five hours before the concert and carefully prepared himself. Unnoticed, he went into the dressing room assigned to him and there, with the help of a dresser, dressed in a tutu, tights and pointe shoes. The 60-year-old composer's face was decorated with the traditional stage makeup for ballet dancers.
When everything was ready, Rostropovich even went into the women's bathroom in his suit. No one paid any attention to him, mistaking the musician for an elderly ballerina who decided to shake things up for an old friend of Stern. When the accompanist began to play the intro from Saint-Saens ' "The Swan", Rostropovich "floated" backwards from the wings and, carefully impersonating a ballerina, trotted across the stage.
When the audience realized what was happening on the stage, the audience literally burst into laughter. Rostropovich calmly got to his instrument and began to play the cello part. The musical number was performed flawlessly, and the great cellist's wonderful joke was captured by dozens of journalists.
The prankster himself did not expect such a stormy fun from his performance and was worried that Vera Stern would take offense at him for this trick. But the woman perfectly accepted the humor of a family friend and laughed along with everyone. But the hero of the day was offended by Rostropovich and there were two reasons for this. First, the middle-aged Stern wet himself with laughter, sitting right in the hall.
Secondly, the famous violinist was offended by the fact that his anniversary was remembered in the press only in connection with the joke of Mstislav Leopoldovich. All the photos in newspapers and magazines had a grotesque "swan", and the hero of the day himself did not appear on them. Of course, the resentment was short-lived and the musicians remained friends further, but Stern recalled this incident to the end of his days.