Quarantine digest in Ukraine. What you wanted to see but didn’t have time for or what you did not have time to visit, but want to listen

In such difficult times of home isolation, online communication with artists of favorite art institutions lifts the spirit and creates an opportunity being involved in a virtual, but still live process. For institutions this process means the admired acquaintance with a new audience, that will run headlong to the concerts already “in a real life” and a caring appeal to their own audience, that  will come to their homes with gratitude for the broadcast “reminders” as soon as the quarantine is more adapted or even canceled.

In Ukraine, such actions, in addition to these circumstances, provide an opportunity to attend concerts that the audience was not before the pandemic. Solo, chamber, and in the near future – orchestral performances in compliance with sanitary and epidemiological norms await us on the websites of regional and national philharmonics, honored and folk groups… The specificity of opera houses is an attraction of many people who create stage performances. This won’t allow theaters to return to the usual concert mode in the near future, as well as to realize recordings of online performances. So, as well as the most famous opera stages in the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, the Vienne State Opera, the Berlin State Opera, La Monnaie/De Munt, Ukrainian theaters provide the archival productions of the past. This article selects some interesting broadcasts and projects of the last quarantine days.

Last week, the Taras Shevchenko National Opera and Ballet Theater of Ukraine celebrated the 85th anniversary of the birth of the famous choreographer Anatolii Shekera. The film about the Maestro and his ballet production “Spartacus” were dedicated to the memorable date.

Photo by O. Orlova

For the first time the ballet “Spartacus” under the direction of A. Shekera  saw the stage of the Lviv Opera in 1965. At that time, the author, the Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, created a new musical edition of the ballet,  he even conducted the premiere in Lviv. A year later, A. Shekera’s editions in the scenery of another artist were transferred to the Kharkiv DATOB (in the Soviet Union – the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater), and the second reading of the ballet “Spartacus” was presented on the stage of the Kiev DATOB on May 17, 1977. A. Khachaturian praised the professionalism of Kyiv ballet. The ancient history of the performance reveals the significance of the musical and choreographic work for the National Opera of Ukraine. The choreography belongs to A. Shekera, the script is based on the libretto by M. Volkov and co-authored by Y. Hryhorovych, whose choreographic edition is considered the most successful … The edition is really exciting – despite customary ideas, it impresses by a special interpretation of the finale and musical value.

Passionate, impetuous and sacrificial music in ballet prevails – so the cameraman often manages to glance at the charismatic conductor Oleg Ryabov in the key moments of Spartacus’s monologues. Despite the bright mass scenes, the most important emphasis in revealing the images of the heroes falls on their solo characteristics. Sometimes, however, the opponent of Spartacus, Crassus – the second protagonist, loses the quality of choreographic material. “Spartacus” is the pinnacle of men’s ballet. Heroics, tragedy and lyricism: three whales of ballet that always find a response in people’s hearts. The sun doesn’t burn up over the dead Spartacus, and he is not finally raised on the shield. The infinite symbol of the struggle is lost, only Phrygia mourns the deceased warrior.

Photo by Ruslan Litvin

From May 22 until the end of this weekend, the Lviv National Opera will broadcast the performance of the opera “Lohengrin” in March 2019. It is dedicated to the anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner. Once, in the late nineteenth – early twentieth century the Lviv stage hosted Wagner’s musical dramas (“The Flying Dutchman”, the tetralogy “The Ring of the Nibelung”, “Tannhäuser“) … “Lohengrin” was staged here in 1877.

The first production of Wagner’s opera in Lviv (and not only) during the time of Independent Ukraine received an unexpected directorial interpretation by Michael Sturm: unnaturally large hospital beds for the mentally-ill, Lohengrin-Messiah for controlled people and an almost quarantine ban… “Never ask me!” – with these words the play begins. Don’t ask why such original productions are still rare in Ukraine?

The Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theater also presents its performances without free time restrictions. On May 1, an interesting, completely opposite to Lviv’s director’s version of “Lohengrin” was shown on the YouTube channel. Summerly Odessa presented the opera at the art festival “Velvet Season at the Odessa Opera” in late August 2019. Works by Richard Wagner have previously found a place in its repertoire – in 2012 the premiere of the concert “Universe In Wagner ”, in 2017 – the opera “Tannhäuser”. So this staging also became another pearl of Odessa.

Semi-stage scenography is one of the latest solutions for productions for Ukrainian theaters. Such scenography presupposes the presence of costumes and only emphasizes the characteristic conceived by the author: in particular, the character of Ortrud – in a “lizard” dress. In addition, director Pavlo Koshka did well without a real swan – thanks to an interesting video series, which creates a three-dimensional effect together with the orchestra, choir and soloists on stage. This effect is multiplied by the professional skills of the orchestra under the direction of Igor Shavruk and soloists – Lohengrin, Alexander Schultz, and Elsa, Natalia Pavlenko. Moving choir, detailed music, which feels good even without theatrical scenery; confident vocalists – such performances do not leave guests cold.

Photo by Roman Tupis

Almost from the beginning of the quarantine, the Lviv Organ Hall broadcasts live concerts of soloists Nadiya Velychko and Olena Matseliukh. But that’s not all: broadcasts consist of two conceptual parts – concert and educational. A kind of podcast, or one of the lectures of Ivan Ostapovych and Taras Demko with the eloquent title “Not forever mourned” – inspires a positive, much needed in such an eternal quarantine.

A night concert by Stanislav Kalinin from Kharkiv took place on the of March 29, 2018 as part of the III International Festival of Chamber and Organ Music in Lviv. The concert program is built as a presentation of different epochs, styles and schools. From the temperate J. S. Bach, the gallant J. Krebs to the romantic F. Liszt – in the chant of the Prelude and Fugue of the omnipresent Bach, and J. Reinberger. At the end of the program there was a work by Ukrainian composer Vyacheslav Nazarov – “Toccata” from the “White Symphony”. The twilight concert sounds for an instant – the chronological organization and the compositional structure of the program influences musical mood, and the skill of one of the best organists in Ukraine.

The National Philharmonic of Ukraine also broadcasts its concerts online. On May 6, the communication with the listeners was set up through the Chopin recital of the National Artist Lyudmila Martsevych in the Mykola Lysenko Column Hall. For those who are interested in the art of romanticism, it will be interesting to listen to a concert. Moderate colours, subdued dynamic shades and a pleasant tradition of playing with sheets, forgotten now, – all of it confirms the professional level of the soloist. However, the first attempt to establish a live online broadcast of the performances was still uncertain, despite the fact that at the beginning of the quarantine, the National Philharmonic purchased equipment for high-quality broadcast of musical performances. In virtual reality, everything is important: sound, light, and ultimately, the visual component of the event. In the near future, the Philharmonic continues to broadcast in real time but not for free.

Volodymyr Sheiko

“Dear friends, the Ukrainian Radio Symphony Orchestra welcomes you from the Recording House and on the Suspil’ne Channel. Finally, we are with you again and nothing can separate us and keep the music quiet. We have prepared a small musical greeting… ”- on May 23, the string group of the symphony orchestra under the direction of Volodymyr Sheiko many)  ̶v̶i̶d̶e̶o̶ ̶s̶e̶r̶i̶e̶s̶ “report” of stunning collaborations with soloist Bohdana Pivnenko. The rollercoaster-program looked like this: from Grieg and Rachmaninoff at a low start to a stunning exit to the Handel-Gershwin-Bartok route (where the Romanian Dances is a stop at a wedding) and Vivaldi’s rapid glide path…  And the heroic gallop of epochs caused discomfort… The first rehearsal after the quarantine was so joyful that it caused an irresistible desire to share with the audience the extravaganza of the recorded holiday!

Photo by Serhiy Horobets

The events of the project “Lviv Philharmonic’ Sound” take place in two dimensions at once – audio broadcast on P. Tchaikovsky Street and on the official resources of the Lviv National Philharmonic online. Thus, the external broadcast is a symbol: music has not left art institutions, they continue their work…

The famous category of works of the “lockdown” period in the # 26th “Sound…” includes the Musical Performance for Piano and Electronics by composer Ostap Manulyak. Entitled “Liberation from the Flat World” (P. Guillen) hides a whole ecosystem with sprouts of quotes from modernists and avant-garde. Intertext or interworld? Alone or among rare like-minded people? The work is a “manifesto of solidarity for creative people who find ground under their feet and rise from their knees,” according to the author. In order to be able to perform chamber concerts together with the Lviv organization of the National Union of Composers of Ukraine, a special artistic project was created.

Culture cannot stay away from the processes of life in the country. Execution of archival works or live broadcasts in both cases is valuable – both for institutions and for the authors who can be performed. According to Bohdana Frolyak, “For me as a composer, it is not easy to organize another performance of a large-scale work, and thanks to such actions it gets on the air.” On the day of the reburial of the Ukrainian prophet Taras Shevchenko, May 22, the # 30th “Sound …” broadcast the Requiem Symphony “Veritable Soul” – a work for mixed choir, soloists and symphony orchestra based on the work of Kobzar. According to the author, “Shevchenko’s texts are like the texts of the Bible, and we read what is happening now and what will happen in the future.” The author received the Shevchenko Prize in 2017 for the Requiem of those killed Maidan heroes.



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