Notre Dame de Paris revives its destiny in Lithuania

  • 2012-01-25
  • By Sam Logger

KLAIPEDA - It is believed that a person can live every single moment of his or her life with the help of notes found on the keyboard. Music, like the perception of the surrounding world, lets a person learn the relations between people, about how they interact, trying to taste the full spectrum of emotions. It is even a greater satisfaction if we are allowed to look into the past, or, more precisely, to the story of “Notre Dame de Paris,” written by one of the most outstanding Romanticism writers, Victor Hugo.

This time his lines are adopted by Latvian composer Zigmars Liepins, whose opera will see its Lithuanian version, “Paryziaus Katedra,” in Klaipeda on Feb. 3.
Liepins was born in 1952 in Liepaja into a family of musicians. Probably this connection to music led him to his future profession, composing his first songs at the age of 17 and graduating from the conservatoire. His career carries Zigmars into various music styles, including rock and pop music. Liepins reaches his peak in the 80s when popular tracks, such as “Vel ir laiks,” and score sheet for the movie “Vajadziga soliste” (“The soloist is needed”) was created. In the meantime the composer devotes time to rock operas, the most famous of all are “Lacplesis” and “Parizes Dievmates katedrale” (“Notre Dame de Paris”). While “Lacplesis” plays an important role in the Awakening period for Latvians, “Notre Dame de Paris” conveys the emotional intensity driven by love, betrayal and forgiveness.

Now this intensity will be included in the Lithuanian interpretation of Liepins’ opera. The foundation has already been created, as the premiere at the National Musical Theater of Klaipeda dates back to 2005. This year the combination of the original and emotional language, and Hugo’s everlasting love story, is taken to a new level. Drawing on the differences between the person and society, the contrasts outline the never-ending fight in the dualism of good and bad, beautiful and ugly, and dominantly between the spiritual and secular.

Directed by Ramunas Kaubrys, the performer’s story is: Rita Petrauskaite lives in Esmeralda’s role; Lithuanian stars Edmundas Kucinskas and Deivydas Norvilas share the depth of Quasimodo, while the complexity and personal tragedy of Frolo is delegated to Arturas Kozlovskis.

It does not happen very often that Latvian operas are translated into other languages and interpreted in different ways. Still, there can be arguments influenced by various understandings of the story lines themselves. Liepins is a local Latvian hero who has made Latvian music look like it is meant to rise from the dust every time the Latvian nation is somehow left alone. His music is always patriotic, sensational and completely dependent on the feelings of his national brothers and sisters. Alongside musical idols Raimonds Pauls and Imants Kalnins, Liepins is probably the only one who inserts hidden messages into his sound paintings (and supporting the most appropriate librettos to these paintings), which are solely understood by the Latvian mentality.

The composer attracts with the anticipation that is never disturbing. Moreover, it is welcoming and credible. Thus, the main question arises, if the Lithuanian interpretation correctly represents the melancholy of the story. No! And it does not have to! Why? The Lithuanian story adds a completely new twist to the opera – diversity. It supplements the tragedy with hope and makes the overall mood unpredictable, hence more entertaining.

“Notre Dame de Paris” is arguably the best piece coming from the culture of Romanticism. It is never easy to realize the pain that every character is going through, but it is always a soulful experience about the destinies that today can be as true as they were centuries ago.

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