It is cold and snowing outside. Seems like no one would want to go out of their cozy homes. But the hall of the National Opera of Ukraine is full to the brim (Ukrainian intelligentsia is here: composers, musicians, artists, musicologists, directors, writers, clergy, politicians, and also guests from abroad). The reason for gathering of such outstanding audience is the world premiere of the opera by one of the most prominent Ukrainian composers, living classic, Hero of Ukraine, winner of the Taras Shevchenko National Prize, People’s Artist of Ukraine, Academician, and Professor Yevhen Stankovych called Passion of Shevchenko based on the poems written by the great Kobzar (author of the libretto and chief production director is Vasyl Vovkun). Significantly, on the day of commemorating Taras Shevchenko many people came to the opera dressed in Ukrainian national embroidered shirts.
The initiator of the event, chair, person of the Supervisory Board of the Foundation “Big Family” Vira ULIANCHENKO, said: “Opera by Yevhen Stankovych presents the vision of Shevchenko’s contemporaries on his life and creative work.” The presentation of the opera was made possible also thanks to the efforts of the National Choir of Ukraine “Dumka” (artistic director and the chief conductor: Yevhen Savchuk; soloists: Oleksandr Boiko and Anatolii Pohribny) and the National Honored Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine (artistic director and chief conductor: Volodymyr Sirenko).
The originality of the event is clear even from the fact that the authors of the performance, including Vasyl Vovkun, found it difficult to define the genre of the composition, which emerged in the combination of words (reciter: Yevhen Nishchuk), music, plastic art, scenography (Vadym Pechurkin-Shumeiko), and costumes (Liudmyla Nahorna). It is a generally known fact that “The Passion” is a temple action based on the events in the life of Christ as described in the Gospel. However, there was no performance as such in what the audience saw at the National Opera, despite the efforts of the ballet troupe led by Yurii Prystaietsky (soloist: Artem Hordieiev). The plastic interpretation of the opera caused a lot of questions to the stage directors of the performance, since the powerful and self-contained music created as a large stroke of the great master Stankovych, sounded incredible together with the word of Taras Shevchenko. The strange movements of the dancers only hindered the adequate perception of the incredible work, where Stankovych’s music and poems of Shevchenko “painted” panorama of Ukraine as a powerful nation, which still must fight for the right to exist, for their own language and culture. The audience was impressed by the “quiet ending” of the performance of the well-known poem “Sadok Vyshnevy Kolo Khaty” (The Cherry Orchard by the House)… “In order to have the cherry orchard we have to go through complete cleansing,” said Vovkun. “Thus, we have to start doing something ourselves because nobody else will do it for us!”
Yevhen Stankovych admitted: “My old dream finally came true: I dreamt of writing a great music piece based on the poems by Taras Shevchenko. I took the poems that reflect the very important human and philosophical issues. It was great spiritual work…” The perception of the opera by the society and musicologists is still ahead and we (those, who was in the audience or listened to the broadcast on the radio or TV) were lucky to witness the birth of a miracle and another masterpiece of the prominent composer.