Alla Zhuravleva: "My memories of Magomayev related to stressful situations"
The legendary Sochi TV presenter, who had spent more than 50 years working for television, Honored Artist of Russia Alla Zhuravleva shared her memories of Muslim Magomayev and her impressions of Baku and Sochi with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- You've been in the field since you were 18. In one interview you said that working on television in those years was equivalent to travelling into space. How did you manage to get into TV?
- It just happened. I got into the university and once heard on the radio that they needed a trainee radio broadcaster in Sochi. Ever since I was a little girl, I loved poetry and won a lot of competitions; I was very attracted by this whole thing. Therefore, I rushed to the announcer competition and won it, that's how I made it on the radio. I worked there for half a year, before the opening of the Sochi television. Then a management team, which hired people, came to us from Moscow. I also got a job offer. So I started to work as a radio and television announcer at the same time.
- Sochi remains the centre of gravity for the stars. You interviewed many of them, including Muslim Magomayev. Could you tell us about of your first meeting?
- In 1967, Magomayev arrived in Sochi for the first time with the Baku Opera and Ballet Theater, where he sang for a short period of time. He had a recital in Sochi. I wanted to be there, but I had to interview the astronauts in the Chemitokvadzhe sanatorium that day. I stayed there all day and was late for Magomayev's concert. I run there through the director's loge, all shaggy and tired, wearing everyday clothes. I see Muslim Magomayev and the Ministry of Culture's representatives standing in front of me, they grab me and say: "You must moderate the concert!". I tell them I can't go on stage like this. But Magomayev said: "You look great." I get on stage and see an overcrowded hall. It was impossible to get to Magomayev's concert, a complete sold out. In the first part, Magomayev sang operatic arias, and I had to be near the piano and turn the notes. After the first part, a representative of the Ministry of Culture approached me and said: "Everything is fine, but no one can hear you." It turned out that the microphone was turned off, because Magomayev performed classics without a microphone. In the second part, he sang pop songs and they turned on the microphone. As a result, the concert went well, and Magomayev asked me to moderate his second Sochi concert the next day at the Summer Theater.
We met in the afternoon, put together a program, it was very comfortable and wonderful. But it was not without adventures as well. Before the concert, an elderly fan approached Magomayev backstage with the words: "Muslim, I beg you. I had tickets, but I lost them. Help me to get to your concert!" He replies: "Wait here during the first part, my administrator will come to you during intermission and show you a place." During the intermission, Magomayev returned backstage with an armful of flowers, and this elderly fan, going to the hall, tells him: "Muslim, could you give me a few flowers, as a souvenir from you?" He gives her an armful of carnations, and she leaves.
At the beginning of the second part, I go out and declare: "Music by Muradeli, lyrics by Sobolev, the 'Buchenwald alarm'." Suddenly I see this lady with flowers approaching the stage, pushing young female fans away to hand these flowers to Magomayev. Big noise raised up. Magomaev starts singing: "People of the world, stand still for a minute! .." On this phrase, he interrupts the song and says: "Listen, what's happening? We're not in the circus!" ... This nutjob was taken away, of course, but it brought Muslim down. The second part of the concert was messed up.
After the concert, it was impossible to leave the Summer Theater's territory. The car was moved to one exit, then another. Fans simply tore Magomayev apart. It was something incredible, even dangerous. Even in the afternoon, when we were preparing the concert program, some girls climbed through the pipes, looked in the windows, the devil knows what was happening. On the one hand, it's was indecent, on the other hand, yes, such fans are ready for anything. In short, all my memories of Magomayev are related to completely stressful situations.
- Then Magomayev left Sochi?
- He stayed there for a couple of days. I remember we saw off his uncle at the station. We go along the platform and see two women walking towards us. One of them tells the other one: "Look, it's Alla Zhuravleva!". Muslim was even a little offended: "Well, they don’t even notice Muslim Magomayev." But they could not believe that Muslim Magomayev could just walk along the platform like that!
The next time he arrived in Sochi only in the early 2000s. ITAR-TASS held the Congress of Russian press there, and Muslim Magomayev was among the honored guests. That's when I finally get an in-depth interview with him. But he was very sad, was impressed by the Nagorno-Karabakh situation. I asked him: "Do you often visit Armenia?" He replies: "I don’t. They don’t allow me to visit it. It shouldn’t be that way in the civilized world. This is my friend, the fact that he is Armenian, and I’m Azerbaijani has never bothered us. Normal, civilized people shouldn’t be in such a situation, we don’t even think about it." He was really upset.
- What kind of a person was Magomayev?
- An unthinkably generous and kind person. I remember a woman stopped him: "Muslim, sorry, I came from Leningrad, I have no money for the return trip. Could you give me some?" He immediately pulled out the money and gave it away. Whatever he was asked, he was ready to give the shirt off his back. He loved companies, friends, he could not be alone, he liked to treat everyone. He was a very kind and open person.
I remember we sat on the beach in bad weather. A woman was there, picking up something. Muslim was looking at her very carefully for a long time and suddenly said: "She reminds me my grandmother! How I loved my grandmother! Lord, how I mocked at her! Forgive me, Grandmother." That's who he was.
- From a professional point of view, how it was like to interview him? Was he an open person?
- Absolutely. It was easy to work with him. Not everyone can be like that. He was a very free person, people felt very comfortable with him.
- Have you been to Muslim Magomayev's homeland - Baku?
- I've been there several times at that wonderful time when we were all friends, and our studio visited the Soviet republics with its programs. They visit us, and we visit them. Baku left a very pleasant impression. It was a good time and a good practice. We made acquaintances, exchanged programs, understand each other better. I remember that Baku citizens loved to treat people and show their city. Baku left a very pleasant impression, especially in the evening - a glowing, sparkling city. It was very beautiful, with friendly people.
- You were offered a job in Moscow, but you stayed in Sochi. Why?
- I did, but still worked a lot in Moscow. I was often invited to various programs, I was the only presenter of the 'News Relay' (Estafeta Novostei) - mostly it was hosted by the commentators. I hosted 'Good Night, Little Ones!' (Spokoynoy nochi, malyshi!), took part in 'Goluboy ogonyok' programs, interviewed actors in Moscow. I worked at the Shabolovskaya telecentre. There was a studio at the Television Theater on Zhuravlev Square, from which it was possible to do programs. But I fell in love with a man moved to Sochi, and decided to stay there.
- Sochi has changed a lot since then?
- I always think and speak about my city with warmth. After the Olympics, it hosts many festivals, contests, symposia. There, you are always in the whirlpool of events, watching a kaleidoscope of guests. I think the city lacks quality service, although it is fixable. The hit-or-miss architecture is embarrassing. An architectural vinaigrette was made up of new buildings. In terms of style, a lot of things do not match and seem redundant. There is no need to repeat Manhattan or Chicago here. Sochi should be more comfortable. In this regard, I like London, English resorts - everything is so low-rise and comfortable there. It's very magnetic. They built up the first coastline in Sochi in violation of the law, the skyscrapers blocked the breath of the sea and its smell. They are beautiful, they shine, but guests sometimes ask: "Do you have a sea in the city?"