Mini opera in Uzbekistan

Issue #2 • 1318

In Uzbekistan interest to mini opera occurred in the second half of the 20th century. The first mini opera “Duel” by N. Zakirov was composed in 1972. The next came much later. Cultural process and general musical thinking promoted creation of such operas in the 1990s. These are “Heart of mother” by H. Rakhimov (1987), “Orchestra” by F. Yanov-Yanovsky (1991), “Come and go” by D. Yanov -Yanovsky (abstract psychological etudes for three characters and seven musical instruments) (1995), “Accompanist” by F. Yanov-Yanovsky (1997), “Swan song” by N. Cheriomuhina (1999), “Feast during plague” by K. Usmanova (1999), “Do, Joe?” by D. by Yanov -Yanovsky (2001) and “Rescue?” by F. Yanov-Yanovsky (2005).

Emergence of mini opera in Uzbekistan was logic. Development of modern opera art, both foreign and Uzbek, promoted that. The reason was development of mini, or chamber, genres almost in all fields of Uzbekistan art. The works had different literary sources, but were united by common direction – lyric psychological drama. Interest to the genre of mini opera had several reasons: mobility of genre and opportunity to play on small stages; growing interest of Uzbek composers to lyric and psychological issues; turn of young composers of Uzbekistan to this genre.

History of foreign and Soviet opera was long. We know that mini opera was a reaction to traditional academic genre of grand opera. It goes back to theatre of the 18th century (“Maid-dame” by Pergolesi, “Opera of beggars” by Gay, “Kind daughter” Piccinni, “Country magician” by J. J. Rousseau and “Miners” by Umlauf. “Mozart and Salieri” by R. Korsakov, “Stone guest” by Dargomyjsky and “Aleko” by Rakhmaninov were created in the 19th century.

Actual progress of mini opera fell to the 20th century. Variety of tendencies, experiments and mobility characterize this genre. It should be noted that in the 20th century mini opera was developing in numerous forms. These are opera – drama, comic opera, monodrama (monologue), TV-opera and opera-musical. Figurative borders of the genre were extended in new historical conditions. Such great composers of the 20th century, as Hindemitt, Schonberg, Janacek, Poulenc, Menotti, Bartok and others turned to this genre.

One of the first mini opera in Uzbekistan was N. Zakirov’s “Duel” (1972). It shows many advantages. First of all, this is not only the first national mini opera, but also the first lyric-psychological drama on today’s plot. Dramatic novel by M. Baidjiev became its literary source. The personages are from contemporary young who are seeking for answers to difficult life questions.

According to musicologist D. Alimova, “title of opera – “Duel”, successfully chosen by M. Baidjiev, reflected not only the main idea – struggle of two opposite outlooks and emotional collision of the heroine, but also “duel” in her soul and mind choosing a way of life ” (1, p. 36).

“Duel” is dynamical opera. It consists of multi-stepped culmination parts and two subject lines – ideological and lyrical. A principle of contrast stylistic layers – citations from classical operas, jazz (tape records) and author’s music play an important role in dramaturgic structure of N. Zakirov’s opera.

Uzbek mini opera “Heart of mother” by H. Rakhimov was composed on dastan “Armon” by J. Kamol (libretto by F. Safarov). Its subject is tragedy of woman – mother. She dies on the threshold of house, not having waited for her children from war. Realizing the idea in genre of mini opera, the composer used various expressive means – first of all, Uzbek melodics that combines arias and recitation. H. Rakhimov used also aleatory composition expressing the image of war.

The example revealing traditions of West-European and Russian mini opera is “Swan song” by N. Cheriomuhina. It was composed after A. Chehov’s play and represented drama – monologue of the former actor who had been disappointed with life and art. “It is terrible to be alone … who needs me? – the old man asks himself. Who loves me?” And answers: “I am a person, I am alive, blood but not water is flowing in my veins! … sacred art does not exist. I am a slave, clown, buffoon entertaining the public”.

Some young composers permanently experiment in genre of mini opera. So, extremely psychologized plot of mini-opera “Come and go” by D. Yanov-Yanovsky brought to maximal compression of expressive means, pointillism and dodekaphony. Another dodekaphone mono opera “Do, Joe” by D. Yanov-Yanovsky has original idea. It is composed for mezzo-soprano and dramatic actor (or video) after S. Bekket’s play. The composer tried to transfer the voice of conscience by means of human voice: “What is heart? It is being destroyed and crumbled when you are laying in darkness … it is vermiculated totally. Do, Joe? Do you know a rotten dust-hole which you name your soul. … There from goes my voice, doesn’t it?” The opera shows mystic and psychological shifts running inside the mind of the character. Mono opera “Do, Joe?” is close to expressionism by type.

Opera “Orchestra” and mono opera “Accompanist” by F. Yanov-Yanovsky continue traditions of mini opera in context of contemporary art. They have both distinctive and common features. Both compositions were composed after the plays by French playwrights J. Anouilh and M. Mithua of the same title. Both operas show inner world of personages, their connection with social contradictions in the world of art. Personages of “Orchestra” are musicians from provincial orchestra, and “Accompanist” is a pianist who left the stage long ago and is working an accompanist. Operas represent new for Uzbekistan genre: opera – concert, combining features of proper opera and concert as well as mono opera. Genre features, original plot and carefully composed action determined their originality. So, “Orchestra” has three dramaturgic lines. The first is drama of Suzanne, Ortans and Leon (love triangle). Another subject line is represented by characters forming a background for the action developing. The author poeticizes ordinary talks. “Music of “cafe” (instrumental interacts) forms a separate dramaturgic line (the third) – concert. It plays also a role of dramaturgic contrasts and makes opera genre more democratic.

“Accompanist” is a psychological mono opera. It represents explicating monologue. The composer opens the psychological space of the personage, his feelings and relation to the world around. Musicological analysis of operas has revealed that one of major means is recitative melody and its rich expressive potential. “Speech” in combination with aria-kind intonations (Suzanne, Patricia, Ortans, Lucien) is among various types of recitative. Notonous and not notonous recitations are used episodically. The composer managed to recreate real, “musically sounding” speech of personages. Instrumental elements often penetrate into intonations of aria and on the contrary (leitmotif of “reality”).

Forms of speaking in operas “Orchestra” and “Accompanist” differ. In the first these are dialogues smoothly passing into mini-monologue and mini-trio. In the second this is a monologue and implied dialogue with a spectator. Bright psychological orientation is their common feature.

Orchestra in D. Yanov-Yanovsky’s operas is a participant of the action. Following for a voice part, it deepens emotional condition of characters. Orchestral interacts in “Orchestra” are multivalued: they play a dramaturgic role (“music of caf?”), carry out a function of dynamic contrasts and democratize musical language. In “Accompanist” the composer uses orchestral episodes – citations which are special psychological method – recollection of the past (II part of 2nd Piano concert by Rakhmaninov and II part of G-Dur concert by Ravel). Orchestral parts are also interpreted in mini and individual manner.

We should note leitmotifs and leittembres in both operas. Almost all of them sound in orchestra. These are leitmotif of love of Suzanne and Leon, leitmotif of Ortans; leittembre of Suzanne is violoncello in “Orchestra”. In “Accompanist” – leittembre is a piano. The last one acts as brief solo instrumental episodes – citations from concerts and as the timbre of orchestra. Characteristic for the accompanist are leitmotifs of “reality”, “murder” and “hopelessness”.
Premiere of the new opera by F. Yanov-Yanovsky “Rescue?” was in October, 2005 at “Ilkhom” theatre.
This list of local mini operas is not full. Mini opera in Uzbekistan continues development and it is early to foretell its result. Further studying of this genre remains topical task of modern musicology.

Julia Usmanova

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