Principles of musical memorialization the tragedy of the Holodomor in the Virkа Baley`s opera «Red Earth. Famine»


  • Ольга Валентинівна Василенко Київська муніципальна академія музики імені Р. М. Глієра, Ukraine



Ukrainian opera, creative opus of diaspora composers, cultural memory, folklore, genre transformation


The relevance of the study. The theme of the Holodomor as a creative phenomenon gradually outlines its contours in the music of various historical stages. The musical creativity of the 80s of the 20th century forms certain prerequisites for the integration of the theme of the Holodomor in music. In the 90s of the 20th century, with the support of diaspora figures, the final crystallization of the theme of the Holodomor and its integration into the academic musical creativity of Ukrainian composers. The reception of the Holodomor in the creative experience of Ukrainian musicians of the diaspora has its own characteristics. Usually, its basis is the personal experience of artists experiencing hunger and famine in their childhood, the trauma of deportation and the loss of ties with their native land, with the Motherland.

The main objective of the study is to explore the vectors of musical interpretation of the Holodomor theme in Virkо Baley’s opera «Red Earth. Hunger» through the prism of personal determinants of the memory of the diaspora artist. The methodology includes biographical (to find out the circumstances of life and education, especially the moments of formation of Virko Baley`s compositional skill during the Ukrainian and emigration periods), comparative (to identify the features of the uniqueness and continuity of the considered music and theater work in relation to previous samples of the genre), structural-functional, genre-stylistic, intonation-dramaturgical methods (for a holistic analysis of the work) and theoretical generalization method (for summing up).

Results and conclusions. The personalistic discourse of the verbal and musical narratives of the artists of the diaspora, the writer Bohdan Boichuk (the author of the libretto) and Virko Baley (the author of the music of the opera) is based on the experience of the genocide. Ways of artistic image of the tragedy in the V. Baley’s opera, a Ukrainian artist of the diaspora, reflects the high-pitched emphatic phase of the musical enunciation of the tragic events of the artificial famine-genocide. The image of hunger in the opera becomes a metaphor for violent death, a means of destroying ethnic and human values, and a direct argument for condemning the criminal consequences of the imperial aggression of the totalitarian USSR and its anti-Ukrainian policy. Appeals to traumatic areas of memory in the theme of an opera work generate means of symbolic realization of a special form of cultural memory, which contributes to the awareness of one’s own identity. The type of composer’s expression of V. Baley in the opera «Red Earth. Hunger» is based on the vocal techniques of European expressionist opera. The traditional layer of Ukrainian ethnic music in the form of specific citation techniques is combined with the use of avant-garde techniques. The author’s thinking is aimed at the transformation of traditional genre forms of folklore ritual songs, the use of parody, grotesque, distortion of the musical stylistics of sound norms of funeral rituals. The traumatic memory zone of the diaspora artist touches the level of the metacategory of the intonation image of the world. The author’s model opera of V. Baley’s the distorted intonation image of the offended Pax Sonoris sound landscape — the ethnic sound image of the world, the former indivisible integrity of the sound universe of traditional culture, a kind of aesthetic category of beauty. The musical drama represents the destruction of the national identity on an impressive scale, which also affects the parameters of the native faith, generally universal humanistic values. As a result, the type of dramaturgy and stylistics of the opera are consistent with the creative experience of musical memorialization of the topic of genocides, approved by European culture.

Author Biography

Ольга Валентинівна Василенко, Київська муніципальна академія музики імені Р. М. Глієра

кандидат мистецтвознавства, доцент, завідувач кафедри історії музики


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