My season opened in the Conservatory with a concert performance of Daisi by Zakharia Paliashvili, the father of Georgian classical music. The Tbilisi State Opera House is under renovation, so the State Opera is performing in other venues. I saw this opera staged, with a similar cast, in Spring 2009, but since Paliashvili is virtually unknown and never performed outside Georgia, it is worth hearing live again and again (I have Soviet era recordings of this and another one of his operas – Abesalom da Eteri – stored on my iTunes, so I do get to listen to recordings of this wonderful music even in Moscow). Truly beautiful music, combining traditional Georgian modes with Western Classical structures.
In the intimate confines of the Conservatory, the cast came off very well. The lead tenor, Armaz Darashvili, and especially the lead baritone, Sulkhan Gvelesiani, even more so, were particularly strong, and the audience reaction nearly forced Gvelesiani to sing every one of his arias twice (certainly, from the looks he and the conductor, Revaz Takidze, kept giving each other, I think they seriously considered it – and since it was not a staged performance, reprising an aria would not have disturbed the drama). The strings got off to a slow start with a very student-like sound, but once fully warmed up did fine. Bizarrely, it looked like they handed out string instruments based on the age of the performers – violinists looked like they were about 20 years old, violists averaged about 35, cellists averaged about 65, and double bassists were around 50. That cannot be a way to set up an orchestra. Winds were of all ages and were very good, particularly the solo oboe.