Ukrainian post-apocalyptic opera to open festival

time:2023-06-08 22:24:52 source:The Washington Post

The composer of a Ukrainian opera set in a post-apocalyptic world has said it is an honour to see it featured at a major UK festival.

Illia Razumeiko co-composed and co-directed Chornobyldorf alongside Roman Grygoriv, who also conducts the work for their company Opera Aperta.

The opera, which was created in 2020, will open the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival on 18 November.

It combines folk and classical singing, physical theatre, dance and film.

Mr Razumeiko, 33, told the PA news agency from Kyiv: "It's a special story because for two years we tried to speak about some kind of abstract post-apocalypse, which might come in 300 or 700 years.

"What happened in February (when Russia invaded Ukraine) was like some sort of post-apocalypse that we can see on our mobile phones and around us with our own eyes."

He said that since the war began, the opera had become a "diplomatic mission" to show Ukraine exists.

"Our language exists, our culture exists, and it is distinct from Russian culture," he said.

The opera includes seven video episodes, taken from expeditions the pair took to Chernobyl's prohibited zone and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

"We visited different places in Ukraine and now literally all these places are battlefields and places where Russian war crimes have been committed," Mr Razumeiko said.

Chernobyl also played a pivotal role in the opera because it had a "very special history and is 1,000 years old and has some interesting Ukrainian and Jewish history", he added.

He also spoke about life in Kyiv and people's optimism despite the ongoing war.

"News about Ukraine liberating Kherson also means a lot because it is a place with theatres and festivals and lots of culture," he said.

Graham McKenzie, artistic director of the festival, said: "Chornobyldorf is an astonishing work in any time.

"When Illia Razumeiko and I started to speak about bringing the opera to the festival, neither of us could have imagined its very real and heightened significance for this moment, as the threat of nuclear war and the unimaginable aftermath stares us in the face."

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