I went to another Georgian opera at the Tbilisi State Opera: Mindia, by Otar Taktakishvili. I assumed this would be another obscure Georgian opera, but it seems to be quite popular and not at all obscure here, and was practically sold out with a very enthusiastic audience (which stopped talking and paid attention, unlike at Aida).
The opera dates from 1961. In style, it was similar to the Paliashvili opera I saw last month, but with four-plus additional decades of development under Soviet eyes (Taktakishvili was director of the Tbilisi conservatory, and deputy head of the Soviet composers’ union). So mood was “Georgian” (inasmuch as Paliashvili is the father of Georgian classical music), including underlying tonality (modal, actually), with a bit of Soviet monumentalism. To that was added a style which repeatedly made me think of William Walton’s music written for various films of Shakespeare plays (the 20th-century monumentalized reinterpretation of music meant to be reflect an earlier era).
The plot was simple, and had as an agenda the opposition to blood feuds. The hero has wandered for many years and learned to understand and speak the language of mother nature. Returning home, he is expected to take part in a blood feud to avenge the murder of his brother, but refuses since this is against his – and nature’s – beliefs. Although he demonstrates bravery in vanquishing his village’s enemies in battle (which apparently is allowed), he continues to refuse to kill his brother’s murderer inside his village. The murderer takes offense that the blood feud is not being honored, and ultimately forces the hero’s hand. After that, the hero is no longer able to commune with nature, and seeks to apologize. At the end of the opera, mother nature forgives him, and welcomes him back.
Staging was minimal, but not necessary to convey the plot, which was more psychological than action-oriented. Picture a classical Greek play, with characters interacting with the chorus more than with each other, and the main action taking place off stage and being referred to.
The lead tenor was the same one who also sang the lead tenor roles in the previous two operas I saw in the house. The villain was excellent (I don’t think I’ve seen him before). Otherwise, cast and orchestra remain quite creditable.