The NY Met Commissions an Opera About Ukrainian Children Abducted by Russians
The Metropolitan Opera in New York is commissioning an opera that will depict the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children by Russians. The project will involve Ukrainian composer Maxim Kolomiets and American playwright George Brant, who will create the libretto.
According to The New York Times, this opera will narrate the story of a mother embarking on a lengthy and perilous journey to rescue her daughter held in a camp in Crimea. The new opera is expected to debut on stage in 2027 or 2028.
Although all the characters are fictional, the story is based on real accounts of Ukrainian mothers who have described their harrowing journeys of nearly 4,800 kilometers from Ukraine to Russian-occupied territory and back in an effort to reclaim their children.
Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Met, expressed the aim of providing "cultural support for Ukraine in its struggle for freedom." He stated, "I can't think of a better way to do that than by having an opera that effectively documents an aspect of the war that underscores the individual heroism of the Ukrainian people in the face of the most terrible and horrific atrocities and circumstances."
The Met selected Maxim Kolomiets due to his experience in opera and his profound understanding of Ukrainian musical traditions. The composer himself emphasized feeling "a responsibility to create something great and to represent his country with dignity." He stated, "The goal is not only to draw attention to Ukraine but also to shed light on similar situations worldwide where mothers endure immense suffering in an attempt to protect their children." He added, "I want people to empathize with this pain and use any means at various levels to prevent it."
Maxim Kolomiets was born in 1981 in Kyiv, Ukraine. He graduated from the National Music Academy of Ukraine in 2005 with a degree in oboe and in 2009 with a degree in composition. In 2016, he completed his studies at the University of Music and Dance in Cologne. He is a laureate of the All-Ukrainian Myroslav Skoryk Composer Competition (2021) and received the third prize at the Vareler Komponistenpreis composition competition (Oldenburg, 2015). His works have been featured at numerous European and American festivals. In his body of work, there are two operas as well as symphonic, chamber, vocal, and electronic compositions.
The Met was one of the first cultural organizations to announce, following the Russian invasion, that it would not engage performers or institutions supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin, and it severed ties with one of its major stars, Russian soprano Anna Netrebko.