Paliashvili, Abesalom da Eteri

Considered the masterpiece of Georgian classical music, Zakharia Paliashvili‘s opera Abesalom da Eteri from 1919 combined Georgian polyphonic modes with Western operatic traditions.  Gorgeous, moody, raw music – I wish it were performed outside Georgia (and that there were a reasonable-quality recording available on CD).

The music was sort of like Rimsky’s Kitezh, but with the rawness of Mussorgsky.  I have no idea if it has ever been performed outside Georgia – the Georgian language being somewhat obscure, I am not sure it would be performed by non-Georgians except in translation.

This is my first performance at the Tbilisi State Opera, which has an ornate neo-Persian theater.  The quality of the opera company is better than in many eastern European houses, most of which seem to have had their talent drained to higher-paying western houses. This was quite a good performance.  Staging was minimal but sensible. Costumes were appropriate for the mythical setting.

I think the house saved its money by not installing lightbulbs.  The lobby, hallways, and bathrooms were all mostly dark.  But the building itself was floodlit from the outside – I presume that comes from the city’s budget and not from the opera house’s.


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