LEONID DESYATNIKOV (b.1955): The Children of Rosenthal.
Catalogue Number: 10S081
Reference: MEL CD 10 02432
Description: Desyatnikov's opera, to an original libretto by avant-garde author Vladimir Sorokin, is a fine example of snarky postmodern clever-cleverness, in the form of a readily accessible, downright appealing piece of music that expresses its composer's genuine and deep love for the traditions of the operatic genre. The work engendered a firestorm of controversy when the Bolshoi announced that they would premiere it, but this had more to do with Sorokin's prior reputation than anything in the opera. In the fantastical, absurdist plot, a German-Jewish scientist perfects the art of cloning, and after fleeing the Nazis, arrives in Stalin's Soviet Union, where the state sponsors his production of multiple duplicates of the right kind of people. In secret, because he believes that death is unbecoming to genius, he clones Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Verdi and Mussorgsky. A succession of Soviet leaders give their evolving views of the usefulness of cloning, then the bewildered composers become street musicians in post-Soviet Russia. This affords Desyatnikov ample opportunity to write slyly referential pastiches of the five composers in scenes that are effectively operas within an opera; the composers "snatch the pen out of my fingers and write the opera themselves" as he puts it. This skilful polystylism - the styles are instantly recognizable (and the composers are sung in the manner of one of their most famous characters), the actual momentary allusions deliciously amusing - interspersed with Desyatnikov's post-minimalist fondness for ostinati and references to 'approved' Soviet music, produce an idiom that is tonal and instantly approachable in a layered and complex work 'cloned' from deceptively traditional material. 2 CDs. Russian (Cyrillic)-English libretto. Chorus and Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre; Alexander Vedernikov.