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Stephen Johnson

(‘Absalom and Etery’)

Opera in four acts by Zakhary Petrovich Paliashvili to a libretto by P. Mirianashvili after the Georgian legend Eteriani; Tbilisi, Georgian National Opera House, 21 February 1919.

Paliashvili began work on Absalom and Etery in 1909, three years after co-founding the Fraternity for the Creation of Opera in the Georgian Language. His studies with Taneyev (1900–03) and his experience as collector and editor of Georgian folk music had given him the resources he needed for the creation of a style that was both technically secure and national in character. In addition, Taneyev had shown him how oriental folk styles could be synthesized with elements from traditional western European music, rather than simply grafted on – the besetting sin, Taneyev felt, of the Russian Five. Paliashvili was by no means the first Georgian composer to attempt such a synthesis in opera, but no work before Absalom and Etery aroused the same degree of enthusiasm. It is now accepted as a milestone in the development of Georgian music and continues to play an important part in the repertory....

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Rudolf A. Rasch

(b Amsterdam, Nov 16, 1664; d Batavia, Dutch East Indies, Oct 4, 1721). Netherlands poet and playwright . Born into a wealthy family, he studied law in Leiden and Utrecht. He was one of the most important and prolific Netherlands poets and playwrights of the decades around 1700, although his works are now little esteemed. He wrote numerous song texts, as well as librettos for ...

Article

Gregory Salmon

Capital of Kazakhstan, to 1921 known as Vernïy. A provincial outpost of the Russian empire, it occasionally received touring groups and produced some original works of lyric theatre, but regular operatic activity did not begin until 1933, when the musical troupe of the Kazakh National Dramatic Theatre became independent. Yevgeny Brusilovsky’s Kïz-Zhibek, the first Kazakh national opera, was given its première at the theatre on 7 November 1934, beginning a long association with the composer. The Gosudarstvennïy Ob’yedinyonnïy Teatr Kazakhskoy i Russkoy Operï (State United Theatre of Kazakh and Russian Opera), formed by a merger of this troupe with a Russian troupe from Kuybyshev, in 1937 became the Kazakhskiy Gosudarstvennïy Teatr Operï i Baleta, moving to a new 1243-seat theatre in Kalinin Street in 1941 (designed by N. Prostakov, incorporating elements of native art). The theatre was closely associated with the local composer Mukhtan Tulebayev, whose Birzhan i Sara (‘Birzhan and Sara’) was first performed in ...

Article

(b Hartford, ct , March 1, 1927). American soprano of Armenian descent. She studied at San Francisco, where she sang in the opera chorus (1945–6). At the Metropolitan she made her début (1950) as the Heavenly Voice (Don Carlos). By her 25th anniversary performance there, as Micaela, she had sung 41 roles in 35 operas, with regular appearances as Leonora (...

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Article

Ankara  

Faruk Yener

[Angora]

Capital of the Republic of Turkey. The foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923 was followed by the concentration of cultural activities in the new capital, which had been an important commercial city since ancient times. In 1934 the first operas by Turkish composers were produced at the Ankara Halkevi Theatre (opened 1930, cap. 638): Özsoy and Taş bebek by Ahmed Adnan Saygun, and Bayönder by Necil Kâzím Akses. The opening of the Ankara Conservatory in 1936 was followed by the foundation in 1939 of an opera workshop led by the German opera director Carl Ebert, who remained at the Conservatory for nine years and appointed eminent teachers including Elvira de Hidalgo, Giannina Arangi-Lombardi and Apollo Granforte. Trial productions by the Opera Workshop began in 1940 with Bastien und Bastienne, Fidelio, Act 2 of Tosca and Act 1 of Madama Butterfly. In 1948 the Palais des Expositions (built 1934) was converted into a theatre, the Büyük Tiyatro (Grand Theatre), with 650 seats. There the Ankara Devlet Opera ve Balesi (Ankara State Opera and Ballet Company) stages six new productions each year, between September and July, of operas and operettas from the standard international repertory, usually two productions in Italian and four in Turkish. Local soloists perform with invited foreign singers; notable among the latter have beem Gianni Raimondi, Luciano Pavarotti and Nicola Martinucci....

Article

Gregory Salmon

Capital of Turkmenistan. Although the Turkmen Dramatic Theatre, founded in 1929, presented some opera, regular productions came only with the establishment of an opera studio in 1937. The opera-ballet studio of the Turkmenskiy Muzïkal’nïy Teatr (founded 1940) formed the basis of the Turkmenskiy Teatr Operï i Baleta, which opened on 10 February 1941 with the first Turkmen national opera, Sud’ba bakhshi (‘The Fate of Bakhshi’) by G. Kakhiani, director of the opera theatre in Baku. Early premières included a number of national operas: A. G. Shaposhnikov’s Gyul’ i bil’bil’ (‘Rose and Nightingale’, 1943), Yu. S. Meytus and D. Ovezov’s Leyli i Medzhun (‘Leyli and Medzhun’, 1946) and Shaposhnikov and V. Mukhatov’s Kemine i kazï (‘Poet and Judge’, 1947). The repertory mixes Russian and European classics with new national operas, performed in Turkmen and in Russian. In 1948 Ashkhabad was struck by an earthquake which destroyed the theatre. In ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Osaka, Dec 11, 1939). Japanese soprano . She studied in Tokyo, then in Milan and Parma, making her début in 1963 at Reggio Emilia as Suzel (L’amico Fritz). She sang at La Scala and elsewhere in Italy; in France, Belgium, Germany and Austria; in North and South America and with Fujiwara Opera in Tokyo. She took part in the première of Joachim Ludwig’s ...

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Baku  

Gregory Salmon

Capital of Azerbaijan. After the annexation of Azerbaijan by Russia in 1806 a theatrical tradition developed only gradually, under the influence of Russian residents. The first local theatre, the Teatr G. Z. A. Tagiyeva (built in 1880), featured some music in its productions, including musical-dramatic performances by singers and instrumentalists during intervals. Concert life developed only at the end of the 19th century, although touring Russian and Italian opera troupes appeared earlier. Efforts by the Nijat society, which directed the Tagiyev Theatre, led to the production of the first Azerbaijani opera, Leyli i Mejnun by Uzeir Hajibeyov, on 12/25 January 1908 and later to other operas by Hajibeyov, including Sheykh Sanan in 1909 and Rustam i Zokhrab in 1910. A 1281-seat opera theatre, built in 1910–11 and reconstructed in 1938, opened in 1911 with a performance of Boris Godunov and has since devoted itself to the performance of Russian and Azerbaijani classics. In ...

Article

(b Vernïy [now Alma-Ata], 20 April/May 2, 1912; d Moscow, June 6, 1957). Kazakh, soprano. She studied at the Vernïy Institute of Education (1924–8), sang with the Kazakh National Dramatic Theatre from 1934 and joined the Kazakh opera in 1937. Her voice was soft and of a distinctive timbre, and she was a good actress. She created many roles in operas in the Kazakh repertory by Brusilovsky, Tulebayev, Zhubanov and Kharmidi, combining in her interpretations a vocal style that was both strongly national and also European. She was the first Kazakh singer to perform Tatyana, Tamara (...

Article

Bible  

Robert Anderson

A collection of sacred books written over different periods in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The 39 books of the Old Testament recount God’s dealings with Israel as his chosen people. The historical period covered is some 1400 years, from Abraham to the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile and the arrival of Ezra in Palestine in c 400 bc during the reign of the Persian Artaxerxes II (404–358 bc ). Innumerable oratorio texts have their basis in the Old Testament, but opera librettos are restricted to far fewer themes. First beginnings in Genesis were treated, if not always in fully operatic form, by Johann Theile in his Adam und Eva (1678), of which the music is lost. A vogue for biblical opera in France included, at the beginning of the 19th century, La mort d’Adam by Le Sueur, Rodolphe Kreutzer’s Abel and Joseph by Méhul. The Cain and Abel story has also attracted more recent composers (d’Albert and Weingartner), and Wagner-Régeny composed a setting of the Esau and Jacob story. Moses and very different aspects of the Exodus have been treated by Rossini (...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Marseilles, March 24, 1936). Armenian soprano . She studied in Milan, making her début in 1964 at Brussels as Micaëla. A member of the Hamburg Staatsoper (1965–73), she appeared with the company at the Metropolitan Opera in 1966 as Jenůfa. In 1967 she made her Covent Garden début as Alice Ford and sang Mimì for Scottish Opera, with whom she also sang Desdemona and Donna Elvira. She appeared at Vienna, Montreal, Düsseldorf, Munich and Aix-en Provence, where in ...

Article

Daisi  

Laurel Fay

(‘Twilight’)

Lyric-dramatic opera in three acts by Zakhary Petrovich Paliashvili to a libretto by V. Guniya after verses by Shota Rustaveli, N. Baratashvili, Akvsenti Tsereteli and Vazha Pshavela; Tbilisi, Georgian National Opera House, 19 December 1923.

Paliashvili’s second opera, Twilight was the first opera to appear in Soviet Georgia and draws on motifs from Georgian folk legends. Set in late 18th-century Georgia, the story combines romantic and heroic themes, effectively playing off the dramatic conflict between love and patriotic duty. As in his earlier Abesalom da Eteri (‘Abesalom and Etery’), Paliashvili fused features of his Georgian musical heritage – characteristic modal inflections, genre writing, melismatic vocal lines and ornamentation – into a harmonically traditional structure inherited from 19th-century Russian opera. The poetic expressivity of the melodies, with their exotic flavour, has contributed significantly to the opera’s continued popularity.

In a courtyard at dusk Nano (mezzo-soprano) looks forward eagerly to the approaching holiday, but her friend Maro (soprano) is subdued. While her beloved, Malkhaz (tenor), has been away in distant lands, Maro has become betrothed to the military officer Kiazo (baritone), whom she does not love. Nano gives her the good news that Malkhaz has returned, and his carefree song is heard in the distance. When the lovers meet, Maro is sad and distracted; she confesses to Malkhaz that she has become betrothed to another. The peasants begin their festivities, and Nano ensures that Maro and Malkhaz are included in the dancing, observed by the elderly Tsangala (bass) who threatens to tell Kiazo. Nano chases him away. As evening falls, church bells summon the people to the festival. Malkhaz tries to detain Maro, but she runs away....

Article

Svetlana Sarkisyan

(b Jerusalem, Sept 8, 1922). Armenian conductor. In 1945 he graduated from the Jerusalem Conservatory, where he studied conducting with Walter Pfeffer and composition with Josef Grinthal; he then moved to Paris, where he continued his studies with Roger Désormière and Jean-Louis Martinet. In 1957 he became chief conductor of the Armenian PO in Erevan. In 1966 he was appointed director of the Armenian Television and Radio SO, simultaneously working at the Leipzig Opera. After serving as the director of the Spendiaryan Theatre, Erevan (1971–4), he moved to Marseilles. He has appeared as a guest conductor in Munich, Vienna, Amsterdam, the USA and South Africa. In September 1991 he again became music director of the Spendiaryan Theatre in Erevan.

Dourian’s conducting, in the Romantic tradition, has been widely recognized for its strictness of conception and balance of form; his artistic temperament has led critics to compare him to Toscanini and Stokowski. He is noted for his interpretations of operas by Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Gounod, Borodin, Puccini and contemporary composers. Dourian has also composed choral and symphonic works, many of which are based on national musical themes....

Article

Gregory Salmon

Capital of Tajikistan. Until 1929 it was known as Dyushambe, and from 1929 to 1961 as Stalinabad. The Tadzhikskiy Gosudarstvennïy Teatr (Tajik State Theatre), organized in 1929, oversaw some musical activities until a more formal musical group was created within the theatre in 1933. In 1934–5 the Tadzhikskiy Muzïkal’ nïy Ansambl was formed with the assistance of a visiting Tajik-language Jewish theatre company from Samarkand. The establishment of the Tadzhikskiy Muzïkal’ nïy Teatr in 1936 led to a number of ‘musical dramas’, including Vosstaniye Vose (‘Vose’ s Uprising’) in 1939 (with music by S. A. Balasanian). The Tadzhikskiy Teatr Operï i Baleta (Tajik Theatre of Opera and Ballet), formed in 1940, devoted itself to the creation of a national opera repertory with the encouragement of national and federal officials, giving premières of works by Balasanian, A. S. Lensky and I. R. Saifiddinov. The theatre has featured mostly native artists, trained in Moscow and Leningrad, since being renamed the Tazhikskiy Akademicheskiy Teatr Operï i Baleta imeni S. Ayni (Tajik Ayni Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet) in ...

Article

Erevan  

Gregory Salmon

(Russ. Yerevan)

Capital of Armenia, southern Caucasus, since 1918. The 19th century saw occasional performances of operetta and appearances by touring opera companies, but local opera began only in 1912 with a private performance of the national opera Anush by Tigranyan (first performed privately in Alexandrapol [now Kumayrï]). An opera class organized by the composer A. G. Ter-Ghevondyan at the conservatory in 1932 formed the basis of the Erevan State Opera Theatre, which opened in 1933 with Spendiaryan’s opera Almast. The first public performance of Anush followed in 1935, when the theatre became the Spendiaryani Anvan Operayi ev Baleti T‘atron (Spendiaryan Armenian Theatre of Opera and Ballet). The first opera to have its première in Erevan, Step’anyan’s satirical opera K‘adj Nazar (‘Brave Nazar’), opened at the theatre on 3 December 1935; his Lusabatsin (‘At Dawn’), the first Armenian opera on a contemporary theme, had its première in 1938. A theatre designed by A. I. Tamanyan opened in ...

Article

Megan E. Hill

(b Shanghai, China, 1943). Peking opera performer of Chinese birth. Born to a family of actors, she began learning Peking Opera at the age of four. She later enrolled in the Shanghai Theater School, joining the new Shanghai Youth Peking Drama Troupe following graduation. When she was 18 years old, she was chosen by Chairman Mao’s wife to perform the female lead role in one of the national “model operas” created by China’s communist government. At the age of 22, she was among the artists deemed talented enough to be selected by the government to perform modern Beijing revolutionary operas during the Cultural Revolution, a period when classic and traditional works were banned. Working in those politically dangerous and unstable circumstances, Qi became well known throughout the country. When the sanctions on artistic production became less stringent in the late 1970s, she again began performing in productions of traditional works. She immigrated to the United States in ...

Article

Anthony Parr

(b London, Jan 1, 1879; d Coventry, June 7, 1970). English writer. Closely associated with Cambridge and the Bloomsbury group, he campaigned actively against censorship. His travels in Europe and India yielded two of his best-known novels, A Room with a View (1908) and A Passage to India...

Article

Andrew Lamb

‘Japanese musical play’ in two acts by Sidney Jones to a libretto by Owen Hall with lyrics by Harry Greenbank and additional numbers composed by Lionel Monckton, James Philp and Napoleon Lambelet ; London, Daly’s Theatre, 25 April 1896.

In the Japanese Teahouse of Ten Thousand Joys, run by the Chinaman Wun-hi (buffo), the geishas welcome visiting English naval officers. Lieutenant Reginald Fair-fax (baritone) has a particular interest in the chief geisha, O Mimosa San (soprano), but she is in love with the Japanese Captain Katana (tenor). She is also sought by the pompous Marquis Imari (baritone), though his attentions are readily diverted to a mysterious geisha, Roll Poli – none other than Fairfax’s fiancée Molly (soubrette) in disguise. Imari is finally tricked into marrying Juliette (mezzo-soprano), a French interpreter at the teahouse, while Fairfax is reconciled to Molly, leaving O Mimosa San to marry Katana.

Jones’s best-known work, it enjoyed immense contemporary success around the world. It achieved more performances in Germany in its day than any native operetta, was featured by Chekhov in his story ...

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