Unprecedented: Ukrainian composer authors script for Metropolitan Opera

October 27,2023 830
Unprecedented: Ukrainian composer authors script for Metropolitan Opera

Ukrainian composer Maksym Kolomiiets and American playwright George Brant are working on a play about deported Ukrainian children for the Metropolitan Opera.

The opera will last two hours. In addition to the orchestra, choir, and soloists, there will also be electronics and a synthesizer on stage, Kolomiiets said in an interview for the Ukrainian media At the center of the plot is the story of a mother who embarks on a long and dangerous journey to save her daughter, whom the Russians are holding in a camp in Crimea.

“This is the story of a family that managed to get their children back. Not someone’s specific story, rather a collective image. The thing is that there are a lot of legal points, moral nuances that need to be somehow bypassed. Therefore, we cannot cover the history of a specific family. This will be done by the librettist George Brant, with whom we are in constant contact,” Kolomiiets said.

The Ukrainian composer submitted the scores of two of his own operas to the competition announced by the Metropolitan. “They especially liked Nich (“Night”). They even thought about choosing it for a while. But despite the good music, the plot is completely irrelevant. And we needed something consistent with the current situation. So we decided to write an opera from scratch,” Kolomiiets said.

The composer explains that the decision to stage an opera depends on many factors. Currently, the process consists only of ordering and writing the piece.

“In any case, even at the current stage, when we do not know whether this opera will be staged or not, it is important for Ukraine. This means that there is support. And the very fact that somewhere in the columns of American newspapers is the topic of kidnapped Ukrainian children –- as a problem and a tragedy – this is significant,” Kolomiiets said.

In September, the American Metropolitan Opera (Met) announced that it had commissioned a new opera from Ukraine about the abduction and deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children by Russia. The work should be performed in 2027-2028. The Met commissioned a work from a Ukrainian composer for the first time in history. After the Russian invasion, the cultural organization was one of the first to announce that it would not bring in performers or institutions that supported Putin and cut ties with one of its biggest stars, Russian soprano Anna Netrebko.