The Metropolitan Opera has announced that it has commissioned a new opera by Ukrainian composer Maxim Kolomiiets and librettist George Brant. The opera will be based on the true story of "Ukrainian mothers who embarked on an arduous 3,000-mile journey behind enemy lines into Russia to rescue their children forcibly detained there by Russian authorities."
The commission is the latest in a series of gestures in support of Ukraine on the part of the opera company, which has held concerts supporting relief efforts in Ukraine, supported the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, and cut ties with Putin-supporting artists. The idea to commission the opera originated in a meeting between Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb and Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska last fall. Kolomiiets was selected from 72 Ukrainian composers who applied.
Gelb said in a statement: "We’re proud to continue to support Ukraine on the cultural front. The heroism of these Ukrainian mothers in the face of Russian atrocities is a story that should be amplified theatrically and is in the good creative hands of Maxim and George."
This is the third opera for composer and oboist Maxim Kolomiiets, following Espenbaum and Night. It is the second opera for playwright George Brant, as well as his second commission from the Met, following an adaptation of his play Grounded, with music by Jeanine Tesori, which will have its world premiere at Washington National Opera this fall, ahead of its Met premiere the following year. The commissions for both Grounded and the new work are part of the Metropolitan Opera / Lincoln Center Theater New Works Program.
The commission is also part of the Metropolitan Opera's ongoing effort to commission and produce contemporary works. The company's 2023-24 season will begin September 26 with the Met premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's opera Dead Man Walking.