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Ensemble

Beautifully together

RODERIC DUNNETT enjoys the
Ukrainian State Opera Company of Odessa's 'La Traviata'

 

The Odessa Opera House is among the architectural gems of not just the modern Ukraine, but the whole former Soviet Union. The modern city dates from the last decade of the 18th century -- the time of Catherine the Great -- and its opera house,

The Odessa Opera and Ballet House

opened in 1809, rebuilt (after an 1873 fire) to a design by a Viennese partnership, and relaunched in 1887 with extracts from Boris Godunov, has features in common, both external (notably its Italian Baroque facade) and internal (the interior is modelled on the French ancien regime style of Louis XVI), with some of the great houses of Western Europe : Munich, Vienna, Rome and Budapest. Scenes from Shakespeare and the Greek and Russian playwrights confirm the Ukrainians' aspiration from the start to reflect the full force of historic European culture. It is, quite simply, a gem.

The Odessa Opera and Ballet House

The composer-conductors Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov and Arensky all appeared there, as did some of the finest singers of their era, including Caruso and Chaliapin. Odessa's productions over the years have included a host of new Ukrainian operas, including premières of Boris Lyatoshins'ky (1894-1968), whose Wozzeck-influenced and Expressionistic The Golden Ring (Zolotyy obruch), one of the most important works of post-revolution Soviet new wave, was staged there in 1930; Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912), whose dozen or so serious, historical and comic operas included Taras Bulba, after Gogol; the short-lived Volodymyr Femelidi (1905-33, whose only completed opera, Rozlom ('The Split'), about the revolutionary Kronstadt sailors of 1917, was first produced there in 1929; Caesar and Cleopatra remained unfinished at his death); and Valentyn Kostenko.

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Copyright © 27 June 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

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