A Star-Studded Team Set to Perform Zigmars Liepiņš Oratorio
“All I’ve done about the “Transcendental Oratorio” is that I have composed it, and I don’t want to talk about it anymore as I’ve been doing it in countless interviews. Thank God, this is one time I will finally be able to come and hear it just like everybody else,” says the composer, Latvian National Opera Director Zigmars Liepiņš, emphasising that best of the best will be performing the oratorio, supported by the “Riga 2014” foundation and the Teterev Foundation.
“The team is spearheaded by the outstanding Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antoņenko, a very rare participant in concerts in Latvia as he is one of those singers who performs at La Scala, The Metropolitan, Covent Garden and many other great opera houses in the world.
I have seen his schedule for the next two years – Aleksandrs is like a Formula One racer, with at least two performances a week for two years to come, with no breaks.
“The fact that this is happening at all, is the achievement of all the supporters.” Zigmars Liepiņš goes on to emphasise that the Saturday concert will also feature other stars: Latvian National Opera soloist Inga Šļubovska, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, State Choir “Latvija”, actor Gundars Āboliņš as the narrator, two organists and conductor Jānis Liepiņš. “I will also attend the premiere of the oratorio together with all of you, to see how it has turned out,” says Zigmars Liepiņš.
When asked to describe how she feels about the “Transcendental Oratorio”, the LNO soloist Inga Šļubovska says: “I pray, I believe and I hope for God’s mercy! My part carries the great motherly love and hope for God, hope that God will hear her prayers! She sacrifices her life to save her baby. The woman’s soul has left the earth, but her spirit keeps pleading for her child to be saved, while the child is still sleeping and is not even scared! Mothers pray for their children as long as they live, and even after they pass away they maintain their ties to their loved ones. The libretto by Andra Manfelde, through the prism of natural phenomena and feelings, paints a very poignant picture of how the mother bids farewell to her baby. He lives on because of her love.” The artist adds that she believes that every person in the world longs to be enveloped in love without having to beg anyone for it.
“I believe that those who are full of love are the strongest people on earth.”
God’s love is the greatest, His love is encoded in all of us! Those who live by loving themselves and their neighbour are the ones who experience grace also while here on earth!”
On the other hand, Conductor Jānis Liepiņš admits that, looking at the score and sketches, he think sit might be one of the best works by his father [composer Zigmars Liepiņš – ed.].
“It’s a very emotional and touching work that will not leave anyone indifferent. The line-up of musicians – the choir, the orchestra and the organ – is necessary to convey the almightiness of God and inevitability of fate, when you are powerless, faced with the forces of nature, and the true love that binds mother and child, that the mother is ready to give her life to save her child and make him understand, “If I do not survive, remember that I love you”. The very message of the composition is very powerful and it shows in the music, which is truly fantastic. That is why this will be such a major event, and I am waiting for it impatiently as I very much want to hear how it will sound.”
The conductor reminds us that this is a true story that his father found on the Internet: after an earthquake in Japan, rescuers were combing through the debris, looking for survivors. “They found a woman under the rubble who was lying in a strange pose, but she was obviously dead and they left the scene. Yet something compelled them to return and to eventually find that she had used her body to shield her baby, still alive. There was a cell phone next to the baby, with a message, “If you can survive, you must remember that I love you,” says Jānis Liepiņš. This story is the basis of the text, which also includes psalms from the Bible that show the power of God, whereas the original text is by Andra Manfelde. The text of the oratorio has also been translated into English, so that more people can understand the story. “I believe that Andra has perfectly captured the thoughts and feelings that a mother may have in such a situation, something that no words can describe, something horrible – and at the same time, epic and true,” says Jānis Liepiņš.
The full video interview with Jānis Liepiņš is available here:
The premiere of the “Transcendental Oratorio” opens the Riga Festival, organised by “Latvijas Koncerti” concert agency. Tickets to the oratorio are available from “Biļešu paradīze” outlets and online shop. The premiere of the oratorio will also be broadcast live on the Latvian Radio Channel 3, “Klasika”, on the 26th of April at 7 p.m.