On 14 October 2021, Lviv Opera will premiere the opera-myth “Ukraine Terra Incognita.” It is dedicated to Wassyl Slipak, the Paris opera singer from Lviv who abandoned his career to join a volunteer battalion to defend Ukraine from Russian aggression and was killed in 2016 by a sniper.
It might just very well be the first opera where performers ditch the classical academic style of singing for the archaic, white-voice manner of polyphonic authentic singing found in Ukrainian folk songs. Combined with symphonic music and jazz improvisations, it is expected to be a unique show — and you can watch the premiere on 14 October online for free.[/editorial]
On October 14, which is since 2015 the Day is Defenders of Ukraine, the Lviv Opera will premiere a unique project. Titled opera-myth “Ukraine – Terra Incognita,” it is dedicated to the Ukrainian opera singer and soldier Wassyl Slipak (call sign Myth), who was slain in the warzone in the east of Ukraine in 2016.
Initially, Wassyl chose chose the call name to “Mephistopheles” for himself when he joined the battalion, but for convenience, it was shortened to “Myth” – shouting “Mephistopheles” into the radio took too long.
- Read also: Paris Opera singer Wassyl Slipak killed in Donbas war (2016)
The authors of the opera are Uliana Horbachevska, singer, director, and researcher of authentic singing; and composer Maria Oliynyk.
Horbachevska is one of several cultural figures breathing new life into Ukraine’s ancient, nearly lost music and reimagining tradition.
This is a long-awaited event, which performers and the audience have been waiting for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions.
In just a few days, listeners will be able to see and hear the opera in full, live at the Lviv National Opera and Ballet Theater. The organizers of the event also made sure that this premiere could go far beyond Ukraine.
As Zbruc.eu notes, the opera-myth “Ukraine Terra Incognita” reinterprets well-known genres and the place of Ukrainian music among them. The artists of the project don’t fit Ukrainian folk singing into the format opera created several centuries ago, but rather create their own format.[quote]“In our opera, Ukrainian folk polyphony is intertwined with free jazz and modern symphonic music, and the scenography emerges from abstract painting, video art, and futuristic folk costumes,” the project’s Facebook page reads.[/quote]
“Each part of the opera-myth is self-sufficient artistically. The completed episodes create a perfect composition of microforms with the plot developing not linearly, but ‘spherically,’ gradually getting covered with details and opening new meanings to the listeners,” reads the opera announcement in the online newspaper Zbruč. “The history of the Ukrainian land has been created through centuries, and it is in the making nowadays, in the modern world. The authors of the work have stitched the Ukrainian past and the present with an artistic thread.”
All the artists of the project are going to convey this through authentic songs and folk lyrics with only one authored text, Iron Heart by Valentyn Morozov.
- Read also: American expat reviving traditional Ukrainian art of kobzaring announces tour across Europe
The project combines symphony music and jazz improvisation with the authentic polyphonic singing of Ukrainian folk songs dating back hundreds of years — ritual, Cossack, and chumak ones, lullabies and love songs.
The archaic Ukrainian singing will be accompanied by the performance of a symphony orchestra — Ukrainian Festival Orchestra conducted by Taras Vergun, and by jazz improvisations by Ihor Hnydyn (percussion), Mykhailo Baloh (saxophone), and Polish multi-instrumentalist Ryszard Liatecki. The performance takes advantage of the video art by VJ group CUBE created in collaboration with scenographer and project artist Volodymyr Oleschuk, contemporary choreography by Artem Shoshin, and “futurofolk” costumes by Marta Wachholz.
The project is organized by YMCA Lviv and the Wassyl Slipak Foundation with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation. The 14 October premiere will be the starting point of the project’s artistic journey. In particular, the next place for the opera-myth to be staged will be Paris, the city where Mr. Slipak lived and worked for almost 20 years.
More on Wassyl Slipak:
- Paris Opera singer Wassyl Slipak killed in Donbas war
- “His life & death will serve as a reminder!” – do not forget fallen Defender Wassyl Slipak
- War report: Wassyl Slipak’s and Anatoly Koval’s last combat mission
- Eulogy to Wassyl
- Farewell to Wassyl Slipak – Opera singer, activist, patriot, soldier
More on Ukrainian music:
- American expat reviving traditional Ukrainian art of kobzaring announces tour across Europe
- Conductor Oksana Lyniv: we should be proud that names of prominent Ukrainians are part of the history of world music culture
- Beyond Go_A: a playlist and guide to modern Ukrainian folk music
- How Ukrainian artists broke into the global art scene after the Euromaidan Revolution
- Ukraine’s 30: prominent Ukrainians who changed the country and the world. Part 1: Culture
- Famed Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk dies aged 81. Here is the music we’ll remember him by
- Polyphony Project: discovering the largest online archive of traditional Ukrainian songs
- Bondi Vesolovsky and Yabtso Jazz: swinging Lviv in the 1920s-
- The three Ukrainian women breathing new life into ancient musical traditions
- 8 shades of Jamala, Ukraine’s Eurovision contestant
- A Ukrainian composer’s gift to the world of Christmas music
- Phone app brings 40 Ukrainian classical composers into your pocket