With a libretto based on the tragedy of Emperor Nero and Trotsky’s essays on Lenin, the opera unfolds against a giant laurelled head of the Soviet leader, which is being ‘trepanned’ as an army of beheaded terracotta sculptures dance around. Composer Dmitri Kourliandski has created the music by stretching several notes from the socialist revolutionary song Warszawianka and feeding them through live electronics. Metaphorically operating on the source of the bloody revolution, the authors of the opera ‘seal’ the idea of war forever inside the head.
Staged for the centenary of the Russian Revolution, the opera premiered at Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, as part of the Holland Festival in June 2017. For the Russian premiere, presented at the 14th Territory International Festival and Contemporary Art School, the authors have created a special version.
‘Octavia. A Trepanning is a curious work filled with allusions, a multimedia theatre for the senses, a brilliant interplay of seriousness and irony, and a beautifully performed musical meditation on the relentless machines of power and violence.’
Regine Müller, Opernwelt