Updated: Aug 9
By: Oliver Chen
With the looming threat of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s no surprise that its citizens are erring on the side of caution every day. But then again, we are persistent creatures. The human spirit carries on even through conflicts and disasters. In some ways, chaos instills a certain inspiration – order, if you will – in us, and has proven time and time again to have prompted the creation of some of our most iconic and beloved works of art.
Francis Scott Key, the lyricist of the Star-Spangled Banner, wrote the famous poem during a British siege on Ft. McHenry during the American Revolution. Now it’s America’s national anthem, an everlasting symbol of freedom and honor. The Caretaker, a project by English musician Leyland James Kirby, has a niche album titled, Everywhere at the End of Time. It serves as a depiction of dementia and how it eats away at your memories, all weaved into a hauntingly beautiful 6-and-a-half-hour track. This goes to show how art shines amidst conflict, whether it’s physical, like a war, or mental, like dementia. And the performance at the Odesa Opera House is not an exception.
With the recent bombings at a train station full of innocent citizens in eastern Ukraine and the Russians burning down wheat fields, among other atrocities, the Ukrainian people have been stripped of their happiness, their food, and their family. But, despite their struggles, the Odesa Opera House in Odesa, Ukraine, is a statement of firm resolve and symbolic beauty. Marina Najmytenko, a soprano at the opera house, stated, “It is art that is going to help us survive and to preserve our essence so that we win this war.” Although Russia is committing atrocious acts upon the innocent people of Ukraine, burning their wheat, and bombing cities, the beacon of light that is the opera house stands among the chaos. Order among the chaos if you will.
The New York Times reported, “The music seemed a defiant miracle of culture and beauty, the ultimate rebuke to the Russian savagery at Bucha and Mariupol, places that have become synonyms of the gratuitous destruction unleashed by Mr. Putin in a war reflecting his obsession that Ukraine is a fictive nation.”
This shows that although we may die, our expression doesn’t, and our art doesn’t. Other people will carry it on for us. And while we are still living, we will try our best to keep the flame of humanity alive. The reopening of the Odesa Opera House is another great testament to our persistence and ability to create something beautiful despite the circumstances, a declaration that Ukraine will not easily waver.