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US symphonies will accompany a Russian film classic

A live symphonic presentation of the classic Russian film ``Alexander Nevsky'' will be presented in three American cities beginning this fall to benefit the American Film Institute (AFI), the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington. The great Russian director's 1938 film with a score by Sergei Prokofiev will be presented with full symphony orchestra and chorus in each city. The live performances will begin on Nov. 3, when Andr'e Previn conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Master Chorale at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. Vladimir Ashkenazy will conduct the Cleveland Orchestra's ``Nevsky'' benefit Nov. 22. Russian expatriate conductor Mstislav Rostropovich will lead the National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center in spring of 1988.

Eisenstein's epic film deals with Russian Prince Alexander Nevsky's victory, with an army of peasants, in overcoming an invading army of German knights in 1242; the state encouraged the film as a means of exploiting its fears over the rise of Nazi Germany.

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A spokesman for the project says that the triple benefit was planned 2 years ago, before the emphasis on glasnost, or openness, in Russian relations with the US. John Goberman, producer of the Emmy-Award winning ``Live from Lincoln Center'' series, conceived the idea and will produce the series. He has had Prokofiev's original score restored and made new prints of the film from the nitrate negative. Goberman became interested because of his affection for the 40-minute ``Alexander Nevsky'' cantata. AFI's proceeds from the benefit will be used for the National Center for Film and Video Preservation. AT&T will sponsor the performances, which could raise ``in excess of $100,000 for each of the organizations involved,'' according to a spokesman.

In 1982 Francis Ford Coppola presented a restored version of Abel Gance's classic, ``Napoleon,'' with a score by Carmine Coppola performed live by the American Symphony Orchestra in New York and Washington.

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