V Moscow, Russia 2010

early spring 

The opera in Moscow is primarily a modern militaristic world.

            At the entrance one goes through the security checks: your bags are searched thoroughly and you yourself are x-rayed. My Estonian accent alarms the guards—anyone from the shores of the Baltic Sea is suspect, but I also notice how one of the guards becomes nostalgic and tells me about his childhood summers in Jurmala.

            I see most Moscovite theatrical productions, tens of Russian operas, Tchaikovskys, rarer Rimski-Korsakovs, Dargomyzhskys, to exhaustion. At midnight I walk home through Red Square, the image is a paradox—in the gardens of the Kremlin sing nightingales and I am working on raw ideas for “Purge”. At this stage I am willing to see “Purge” as a late descendant of Russian opera. I like the idea that the opera—which would be one of the first to speak about the legacy of the Bolsheviks—would be ignited inside the crucibles of the massive culture of Russia, alongside Chekhov’s praxis and the black cars driving out of the Kremlin.


Like everywhere else, the operas are politically correct, detached from the modern world—the juxtapose between an utterly apolitical opera and the political world is realised after one leaves the theatre.

            I’m thinking about the people, the millions of officers who froze to death digging tunnels through arctic permafrost, the millions who starved to death in artificial famines created by Stalin as a means to an end, which was creating a generation who praised him in gratitude.

            And in the grand language of opera—suddenly the idea of “Purge” as opera frightens me.

            I haven’t yet dared to write any of the crucial parts.

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