The name given to this opera is only one of its unique facets. The production ran from the late 1980s to the early 1990s at the Experiment theatre in Leningrad (now St Petersburg), Russia.
Although this theatre was unusual in many ways, its greatest peculiarity was the community created by the actors, directors and staff. The performances featured children, favorite musical instruments, household items. Anyone who participated in the productions became a part of this intimate family.
For a period of time, the walls of the theatre hall were adorned with portraits by Leonid Kaminsky, created in the Russian Lubok style. Among them was a man with a clarinet, signed “Here is the composer Vadim Rivkin. He plays musical fragments”. Now you hold a facsimile of Vadim Rivkin’s original manuscript for Erofeev Passion and a DVD of the production.
The term “passion” possesses a long liturgical history. However, when listening to this piece, it is evident that it does not correlate with the works of J. S. Bach by the same name. Still, there is an underlying connection between Erofeev Passion and liturgical passions. The theme deals with the death of an innocent victim of the government’s wrath. The opera is based on the short story Parakeet by Victor Erofeev. The protagonist is an adolescent who is sympathetic towards a dead bird. He dreams that it returns to life, but his dreams are stopped by the tyrannical government in power. The story culminates to a horrific ultimatum: the boy must sacrifice his own life as a result of a sadistic judge who twists the boy’s case. Rivkin alleviates the intensity of the narrative by adding Psalms of David into the most dramatic moments. By doing this, he not only eases the tension of the listener but also combines the contemporary and the eternally sacred. Although complex, the music flows naturally, imitating human intonations. The composer creates clashing, vivid images both touching and grotesque. Rivkin’s musical score intertwines human voices, a harp and an electric keyboard.
This edition embodies the opera’s transition from the composer’s hands to its future. Those who know and love this music wish it the best.