ABESAL AND ETERI
Opera in four acts (five scenes)
Libretto by P. Mirianashvili
Abio, King of Kartalinia
Abesalom, his heir
Natela, the queen, mother of Abesalom
Marika, sister of Abesaloma
Eteri, the orphan
Murman, the vizier of Abesalom
Naana, mother of Murman
Tandarukh, military leader
Guest (the first sang)
Nine brothers and nine sisters Murman, courtiers, warriors, dancers and dancers, singers, musicians, servants.
The action takes place in ancient Georgia.
HISTORY OF CREATION
The idea of the opera “Abesalom and Eteri” on the plot of the Georgian medieval epos “Eteriani” was given to the composer by a famous connoisseur of Georgian poetic folklore P. Mirianashvili (1860-1940). He became the author of the libretto. The content of this remarkable monument of folk poetry, narrating about the triumph of love over death, spiritual beauty over guile, nobility over evil will, was vividly embodied in Paliashvili’s opera. In the Tsarevich Abesalom the composer emphasized ethical purity and tragic doom. Eteri appears as the embodiment of faithfulness in love, meekness and submission. A vivid psychological characteristic was received in the opera by the vizier Abesaloma Murman; This is a strong personality, overwhelmed by an all-consuming passion. In the opera there is another main character – a people whose image is full of wisdom and spiritual beauty.
Paliashvili began working on the opera in 1910 and finished it in 1918. The first performance of “Abesalom and Eteri” took place on February 21, 1919 in Tiflis and brought the composer a deserved recognition.
In a dense forest the evil stepmother has a poor peasant girl – the orphan Eteri. The stepmother roughly pushes it, forces him to do unbearable work, reproaches with beauty. The girl has no friends, and there is no one to protect her. Sitting by the stream, Eteri surrenders to bitter thoughts about her bleak life. Tired of work, she falls asleep. From afar sounds of a hunting song are heard. The prince Abesal and his vizier Murman come out to the creek and stop, amazed at the beauty of the sleeping girl. Etery’s waking up is confused. In vain Abesalom offers her expensive gifts, swears in eternal love. The girl does not believe him: in fact for the prince she is only fun. Severe jealousy tormented the heart of Murman – he is not available to a girl who fell in love with the prince.
The stepmother again meets Eteri with reproaches and abuse. But it’s now easier for a girl to endure adversity. The fervent love of Abesalomus has planted a reciprocal feeling in her heart, a hope for an early deliverance. From the woods horse trampling is heard, and Abesal appears accompanied by his retinue. He came to take Eteri to his castle. The girl swears to Abesalom to be a faithful wife. Despair and anger suffocate Murman. The Vizier decides to achieve Eteri’s love, why should it not cost him.
In the luxurious palace of King Abio, the wedding of Abesalom and Eteri is celebrated. The sound of the pipes includes the bride and groom. The king blesses the newlyweds. Absalom notes the absence of Murman. But here comes the Vizier. In his hands a gift for Eteri is a small casket adorned with precious stones. This casket has a secret power. He will bring on Eteri an illness from which only Murman knows the remedy. Unaware of the evil intentions of the Vizier, Eteri takes a beautiful chest.
Deep grief reigns in the palace. Beautiful Eteri was struck by a mysterious disease. Every day her beauty fades. Unqualified Abesalom wanders around the castle. His mother and. Sisters are asked to release Eteri: maybe, under the rays of the sun, beauty will return to her. But Abesalus does not heed them. Then Eteri herself turns to him. She says that a simple girl does not belong in the royal palace and asks the Tsarevich to let her go. Murman decides that the hour of realization of his cherished desires promises to heal Eteri, but only if...the girl is given to him. After long hesitation Abesalom agrees.
In the castle Murman yearns for Eteri. She is not pleased with her tenderness of her husband, nor the care of his sisters. Her heart is full of love for Abesalom. There are sounds of pipes. It is approaching the prince, who is unable to bear separation from his beloved. But Eteri does not want to see him: after giving it to another, Abesal broke the vow of eternal love. Abesalom sends the Vizier on a long journey and sends his mother to Eteri. But Eteri again refuses. Then, taking Chonguri, Marika – sister of Abesalom – sings a song, telling in it about the sufferings of her brother, dying of love. Affected Eteri comes out of the castle. Gladly meets her Abesalom. But the forces are already leaving him. Eteri is killed – she can not bear the death of her lover.
“Abesalom and Eteri” combines dramatic and emotional tension of the plot with epic. The music of the opera is imbued with harsh grandeur, the courageous beauty of Georgian folk melodies. The action flows slowly; lyrical episodes are shaded with colorful paintings of everyday life – choruses, dances, processions that vividly recreate the harsh coloring of the ancient Georgian epic.
In a laconic orchestral introduction, the mournful melody of the final chorus sounds – then the impetuous melody of the love duet of Abesalom and Eteri.
The first, mainly lyrical, act consists of two pictures. The act opens with a courageous and harsh chorus of hunters “Avtandil – a bold hunter”. Aria Eteri “I with my stepmother is evil” reminds of an artlessly simple, simple folk song. The rich world of emotions is embodied in the duo of Abesalom and Eteri; the excited melody conveys the fullness and strength of the heroes’ feelings; in the love duet, Murman’s imperious and stern remarks intrude.
The lyrical mood of the second picture shades the symphonic episode of the race. The duo of Abesalom and Eteri sounds enthusiastic and upbeat. Dark determination and fiery passion are heard in Murman’s aria “Even the sun is extinguishing in the sky.”
The second act recreates the ancient wedding ceremony. His music is permeated with rhythms of procession, march, dances. A great place here is occupied by the cheering, majestic and table choir songs. The wedding scene is opened by a monumental choir “Be glorious, Vladyka.” A solemn march announces the appearance of the newlyweds. He is followed by the “Aralali” chorus, sustained in the character of ancient ritual songs. Subtle lyricism marked the canonette of Mariha “You are the love of my soul.” Finish the act of dancing: lekuri (lezginka) – moving and temperamental, Mirza – slow and graceful.
A turning point in the dramatic development of the opera comes in the third act, reproducing a strict mourning rite. The act consists of the aria of the prince and a large ensemble with the choir. The aria of Abesalom “I longed for happiness” is full of deep suffering. The mass stage begins with a mourning chorus “The sun has faded away”; it is followed by mournful lamentations. Tragic color is preserved in the sextet, after which the melody of the choir sounds again.
The fourth act is full of sorrowful lyrics. Feelings of the yearning Eteri are expressed in the aria “Abesalom, you loved with all your heart.” The duo of Abesalom and Murman “This night will be a long one” conveys the spiritual state of the Vizier, who anticipates his death. The duet of Natela and Eteri is painted with sadness. In the following issues – a quartet and an ensemble with a chorus – the color of music gradually clears up (meeting lovers). At the time of Etheri’s death, the colors turn dark again; The melody of love that arises in the orchestra acquires a tragic sound. The opera is concluded by a small mournful chorus: “These fiery souls here have only experienced grief.”