Opera by Otar Taktakishvili
Otar Taktakishvili's first opera, "Mindia" was written after the poem of
Vazha-Pshavela, "Gvelismchameli" ("The Snake-eater"). Practically, "Mindia" is
the first opera, where the poetry of the great Georgian poet has found a
relevant reflection. In the opera there are represented in a generalized manner
the humanistic theme of love of fellow-man and the patriotic theme. The opera
abounds with unique lyrics, though, above all, there is realized the motive of
Mindia's unusual gift to relate with the nature. In Otar Taktakishvili's
conceptual vision there are accentuated several direction of development:
patriotic, lyrical, psychological.
Historians of the Georgian music righteously believe that two Georgian operas, which appeared in 1961, namely, Shalve Mshvelidze's "The Great Master's Hand" and Otar Taktakishvili's "Mindia", represent a worthy continuation of the traditions of the national opera classics, set in Zakaria Paliashvili's operas. The premiere of the opera has presented in the Tbilisi Theatre of Opera and Ballet on 21 July 1961 (The premiere was devoted to Vazha-Pshavela's 100th anniversary). The performance was directed by Odyssey Dimitriadi, its staging painter was Parnaoz Lapiashvili. Musical virtues, found in "Mindia", have caused the long-lasting and impressive scenic life of the opera. Future performances of "Mindia" were implemented on opera stages of various cities: in Erevan, Minsk, Tartu, Riga, Saar-brbcken, Olomouth, Moscow, Kutaisi, Mainingen, Koshitse.
Otar Taktakishvili's "Mindia" has received the best references from famous, authoritative musicians, the fact which is evidently seen from the lines below:
"Mindia" is the distinct example of the true innovation, which is organically
grown out of bold, creatively active assimilation of the past experience and is
original by its plot based on the development of this experience. The music
flows as a non-stop flux, everything is authentic and natural. The author's
excited, charged speech captivates you by its unique force... Music of "Mindia"
is saturated by the frankness of its expression, it is alive!.."
SOVETSKAYA KULTURA". 21 ST MARCH 1963
"I am ravished by the Taktakishvili's opera "Mindia".
"In "Mindia" Otar Taktakishvili has cast a masterly realization of the complex psychological plot of the great Georgian poet. Taktakishvili's great composing culture is felt in every single bar of the opera".
"Mindia" is the great achievement of our opera music, emotionally dazzling, powerful, brilliant in terms of mastership".
"Mindia" is a piece of the greatest ideal and artistic force, integral and assembled work. The opera is perceived as one unified musical canvas".
"Mindia" stands out by its integrity, sublime dramaturgy and original music. Its attractive aspect is its lyrical frankness, dramatic authenticity".
"Otar Taktakishvili's "Mindia" has gained wide popularity ever since its appearance... In this exciting opera-poem we can see model harmoniousness of classic and modern means of opera... In this opera the very essence of Vazha-Pshavela's humanism has been revealed with complete artistic force of credibility. This is the modern importance of the opera "Mindia".
After a long period of absence mountaineer Mindia comes back to his native
country. Sounds of nature are glad to meet him. Mindia's heart raptures at the
sight of his native mountains. He knows the secret language of animals and
birds, understands the echo of rocks and the noise of water falls. Mindia knows
what the high mountains are thinking about, what green fields are singing about.
Mindia is lying on the grass, the whole nature is caressing its son.
The girls surround sleeping Mindia. Mzia, Mindia's sweetheart is among them. The girls recognize Mindia, immediately run back to the village to make everybody know that hero Mindia has returned back.
After a long separation the lovers meet. The whole village directs itself toward Mindia, led by Khevisberi, the head of village. Khevisberi is the messenger of bad news while Mindia's absence - Mindia's brother was killed by mountaineer Chalkhia. People summon Mindia to fulfill his sacred duty - to kill Chalkhia according to the law of blood feud.
Chalkhia is ready to fight with Mindia. He loves Mzia very much. He killed Mindia's brother because he prevented him from loving Mzia.
People are waiting for a terrible vengeance. Mindia doesn't want to kill the man. The reason of it is that because of blood revenge many good warriors died and it weakened their country.
Brother's lost is a great grief for Mindia, but he is against blood feud. Everybody thinks that he is coward. Suddenly the sounds of bell are heard. A messenger brings the news that their village is surrounded by the enemies. Khevisberi summons mountaineers to fight against the common enemy. Mindia directs himself towards the mountains with other mountaineers.
It is dark night. Love has brought Mzia in the field. Mindia has stolen time for love in such a bloody war. But it is time of parting, the duty is to be fulfilled.
Chalkhia is wandering in the mountains. The leader of detachment is coward Mindia, who refused to fight against his brother's murderer but has become a hero of this war. But if he is hero, why he refused to fight Chalkhia? Chalkhia desires to avenge for his insulted honour and love.
The motherland is saved. Mountaineers return back and throw the enemy's flag at Mindia's feet. Mindia's father is wounded. He has only one wish before death - to take blood revenge. Mzia and people demand from the hero to take blood revenge.
Chalkhia is approaching Mindia, but Mindia has already decided not to kill him. Chalkhia at last attacks him. Now Mindia is obliged to defend himself. Mindia begins to attack. Mindia hears the sound of invisible nature which asks Mindia not to kill his enemy. At the climax of the battle Mindia at once thrusts the sword into Chalkhia's heart. Mindia hears Chalkhia's words - I've been a murderer, but now you are a murderer. Mindia quits the place and goes away.
As soon as Mindia, full of grief and anguish, appears, the nature becomes silent. Mindia doesn't understand any more the language of the nature. He is not worth of living any more. Finally the mother nature pardons her beloved son and gives him back his unique gift.
Many of my customers ask me why Minida is called Snake-eater in the Vajha Pshavela poem. Below is short explanation which is not included in the MINDIA opera libretto.
Mindia was captured by demons – “kadji” in Georgian, and was in captivity for 12 years. He saw demons eating snakes and finally he decided to commit suicide buy eating snake since he new that they have poison. But when he eat a snake he suddenly discovered that he had grown wiser (that was why demons were eating snakes) and he gained an ability to understand animal’s and plant’s language. He was surprised and decided to use this knowledge to escape. This is how he finally end up with people in his native country. And here the libretto of opera starts. Since people new about this story they call him SNAKE-EATER.
“Kadjies” are also main actors in Shota Rustaveli’s poem "The Knight in the Tiger's Skin", which is also available in printed and audio versions at http://www.me4u.biz/pages/rustaveli.html