Ukraine opera house is threatened by mass mobilisation

Ukraine opera house is threatened by mass mobilisation


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2015

Artists at the opera house in Lviv (Lvov) say their company is being torn apart by a sudden spate of draft orders from the Ukraine military. We present their appeal verbatim, in a translation by the pianist Valentina Lisitsa:

From the artists of Lviv National Opera Theater:


Please read and share our appeal!

Lviv Opera Theater received 35 military draft summons from the Ukraine Armed Forces.
Majority of those summons are for our artists. Among those summoned are orchestra players, choir members, leading soloists of opera and ballet, Honored Artists and even one People’s Artist of Ukraine!
We, the artists of the theater, have hard time understanding such a wholesale ( at least for our theatre) rounding-up of highly qualified professionals!
We want to stress that such rampant mobilization will force the theater to withdraw certain performances from the repertory, and quite possibly – to shut down the theater entirely!
We would love to explain to the bureaucrats responsible for these actions, that the preparation of highly qualified orchestra players, opera soloists, ballet dancers etc. can take between 12 and 16 years of study plus many years of work experience performing on stage.
Just one example – our ballet troupe received 4 draft summons for the leading soloists – out of total of our 7 leading dancers . Among those drafted one is People’s Artist; in the entire Ukraine one can find hardly two dozens of artists of such a high level!
We would like to remind that no martial law has been declared in the country. The impression we get is that some bureaucrats are hell-bent on destroying the best artistic traditions of Ukraine. It would be interesting to know how many children of Parliament members or of bureaucrats have been drafted so far?
Is it that our leaders are only capable of sending artists to fight at the frontlines or robbing the population through raising the utilities’ tariffs to the level detrimental to majority of regular people?
We very much hope that our appeal will be read by thinking people.
The artists of the theater.


Original text:

У Львівську оперу прийшло близько 35(!) повісток у ЗСУ.
Більшу частину з яких складає артистичний склад театру.
Серед запрошених на службу є артисти оркестру,хору,провідні солісти опери та провідні солісти балету,також є Заслужені артисти та навіть Народний артист України!

Для нас – артистів театру є дещо незрозумілим такий масовий (для нашого театру) забір високодосвідчених кадрів!
Ми наголошуємо на тому що для нашого театру така повальна мобілізація призведе до того що з афіші зникнуть певні найменування вистав,та може взагалі зірвати роботу театру!

Є бажання пояснити чиновникам які відповідальні за ці дії,що підготовка висококваліфікованих кадрів- оркестрантів,солістів опери та солістів балету займає від 12 до 16 років у навчальних закладах,а також багато років роботи в театрі!
Наприклад в балет театру повістки прийшли відразу чотирьом провідним танцюристам з семи (серед яких Народний артист України),а по всій Україні виконавців такого рівня зо два десятки!

Зауважимо що в країні не введений військовий стан.
Складається враження що хтось з чиновників навмисне намагається знешкодити академічні мистецькі традиції України.
Цікаво скільки синів депутатів Верховної ради та чиновників призвали до ЗСУ?
Чи наша влада може відправляти в АТО тільки артистів,та встановлювати смертельні для більшості населення тарифи на комунальні послуги?
Ми дуже надіємось що це звернення прочитають люди з головою!
Артисти театру.


  • william osborne says:

    Some ironies here. The USA would suffer no such problem, since it has no cities the size of Lviv that have a full time opera company, to say nothing of a dedicated opera house. San Diego, for example, is twice as large, but only has about a 10 performance season. And yet regarding military service, the San Diego has more than 35,000 sailors, soldiers, Department of Defense civilian employees and contractors.

    You can read about the Lviv Opera House here:

    • william osborne says:

      Just read that San Diego is spending $1.1 billion on a new stadium to keep the Chargers from moving to the LA area. And what about the San Diego Opera?

  • Valentina Lisitsa says:

    Thank you!

  • Dimitri Hoffmann says:

    Mrs. Lisitza has recieved this letter personally or is it a translation from some open letter in local media? Can we see the original?

    • Simon S. says:

      Yeah, this would indeed be helpful. No offense towards Ms. Lisitsa intended, but she hasn’t actually been an impartial observer of the Ukraine crisis recently. And the whole Russia/Ukraine issue is stuffed with propaganda.

      So I think we have reason to treat this alleged appeal very cautiosly.

      BTW, I have been to Lviv two weeks ago and had the pleasure to enjoy an opera performance. Impressing indeed: The performace itself and the enthusiastic audience, and all this under the conditions of a severe economic crisis.

  • Warren says:

    Is this a letter that she received and translated and tweeted all in the same time as fleeing Jakarta and being for hours and hours on a plane, and then re-tweeted by various followers who are all real people?

  • V.Lind says:

    The draft is failing badly across Ukraine, with people failing to respond to mobilisation calls. Curously, turnout in Lviv has been among the highest.

    • william osborne says:

      Even NATO would not be able to win a military conflict with Russia in that part of the world (and sooner or later it would become a conflict directly with Russia.) No point for young men to risk their lives for what would be a lost cause. Peaceful solutions are the only true option.

      Historically, the Ukraine has been one of Russia’s closest economic and military partners. If the Ukraine is to be pulled away into the EU, Russia and the EU must work together to create a larger and more open Europe that includes Russia. I suspect greed is standing in the way.

      • Christy says:

        The only “peaceful” solution Russia will accept is control of Ukraine’s territory. That’s clear by now.

        Actually, Ukraine has been doing remarkably well. There are four cities that are continuously changing hands – neither side has firm control. If Russia was in control they wouldn’t be amassing more troops and using special forces. It’s quite amazing how Ukraine has continued to fight day after day, largely thanks to volunteers and donations from ordinary Ukrainians (and Ukrainian oligarchs). Russia has gotten into quite a quagmire. Germany has been pressing Ukraine to give in for months – but that won’t happen. This is going to go on and on and on. 15,000 deaths and counting.

        • william osborne says:

          Yes, it will go on and on. There can be no military solution. If it comes to all out war, Russia will defeat even NATO, but that will still not be a solution. The solution is probably something along the lines of a long-term plan to bring Russia into the EU.

          • Christy says:

            Never. Russia respects no agreements and follows no Western norms. There is no possible way the country would fit within the EU. It doesn’t even follow WTO rules, and those are lax. This is well documented.

    • Delbert Grady says:

      “Curously, turnout in Lviv has been among the highest”

      That’s to be expected. Lviv (and Galicia) is the nationalist heartland of Ukraine; it’s where the true-believing nationalists tend to come from.

      • Simon S. says:

        Well, this is mainly because Lviv and Galicia never were under Russian rule before WWII, so the Russian myth according to which Ukrainians actually are Russians misled by history could never really be imposed there.

        • Harald Forkbeard says:

          Galicians were never an independent country. They were part of Austria-Hungary and Poland for centuries.

          Soviet Union gained this territory only in 1939, and in reality after 1945.

          So please, spare us the propaganda.

  • David Conway says:

    Not to be credited unless we see the original.

  • ValentinaLisitsa says:

    Here is Facebook page of Lviv Opera . The appeal letter is pinned to the top.
    My Facebook post is a “re-share” with my translation added ( FB proprietary Bing Translator does a very bad job with Ukrainian ) – it leads to the same original post .

    • Christy says:

      I suppose you’d rather the country just welcome in the 90,000 Russian soldiers amassed on their border and allow the Russian army inside their borders to continue killing Ukrainians? And before you start complaining about Russians being killed, if they weren’t inside the Ukrainian borders, they wouldn’t be dead.

      Every single country in the world would mobilize if it was facing what Ukraine has endured for a year. In fact, the US would be bombing the other country that invaded. You think they wouldn’t? Give me a break. Ukraine and Russia are at war, simple as that.

      • Olaugh Turchev says:

        I thought that according to Lyssenko himself, they were already there? Tepid nationalism won’t be tolerated Christy…

  • Christy says:

    No mention of the Russian special forces confirmed to be captured who are fighting under false labels pretending to be Ukrainians? Ah, shocking.

    Amazing that the Russian army loses hundreds of soldiers (Confirmed within Russia by the oldest NGO “Soldier’s Mothers,” whose head was arrested after releasing this information) and still can’t manage to take and hold control against an unfunded, rag-tag Ukrainian “army.” Seems to be the Ukrainians are doing incredibly well. And please, Ms. Lisitsa – go fight. Then come back and tell us what you find.

    • V. Lisitsa says:

      How lovely of you, Christy, to suggest that I should “go fight” – when I am trying to save people who do not want to fight.
      What’s even more interesting that your comments echo the “top” comments from so-called “patriots”, mostly abroad , who rebuke artists of Lviv Opera for “lack of patriotism” and tell them to “go fight”.
      The further from the frontlines ,more bloodthirsty these well-wishers become.
      Here is the “top” comment addressed to the musicians and dancers of Lviv Opera FB (page – orthography preserved ):

      “Wipe up your runny noses and go fight for a year or so, you stinkers. Pardon my rudeness, you think that if you are a singer, an artest (sic!) you owe your country less than load portars (sic!)
      Who needs your stinkin’ culture when Russian cattle will be crawling over your opera theater.”

      Congratulations, Chritsty! You are in a good company.

      • Christy says:

        Your comment is rambling propaganda, in my opinion, and does not answer the basic question.

        What would you have Ukraine do since it has been invaded? Answer that.

        Should the country just welcome Russian troops in and say… “Hey, sure, take all of our land and kill our citizens?” Would any other country in the world do that?

        Is that what Russia said in Chechnya when the Chechens fought for independence? Did they say, “Hey, sure, Chechens! Have your independence! Do what you want!” We won’t stop you!” Or course not. They killed a lot of Chechens. And Chechens killed a lot of Russians.

        Now, Russians (and Eastern Ukrainians) have killed a lot of Ukrainians. And Ukrainians have killed a lot of Russians. The difference of course is that Ukraine is an independent country with sovereign borders Russia vowed to respect.

        Respect is not sending thousands of troops into another country with insignia removed, including these below. I would suggest you drop the propaganda and try to find some level of reality regarding what is going on at ground level in Eastern Ukraine. If Russia would stop attacking in Ukraine, people would stop dying. You want to save people? Encourage your backers not to send troops like this any more:

    • Olaugh Turchev says:

      According the western media, Boris’ Report managed to tally about 150 former soldiers… Do you dare questioning Nemtsov own report compiled by friends, social media and associates after his passing?

      • tess says:

        Dear Oleg: we dare question everything, especially when biased and one sided. And seemingly, due to recent developments, everyone will question what Madame Lisitsa says – or performs.

  • Adrian Bryttan says:

    When Ms. Lisitsa grits her teeth and bangs “fortissimo” what is originally marked “mezzopiano”, that is bad enough; but when Ms. Lisitsa the translator inserts her own added words, this becomes disinformation – and the reader should ask why is she doing this? Can it be she is likewise accustomed to inserting her own improvised notes whenever she performs at the same time ignoring the composer’s markings?

    This non-story was already thoroughly covered in most of the Ukrainian media, including answering comments from Ukrainian military officials. Ms. Lisitsa’s animosity is ever-vigilant in attempting to “discover” any story that might discredit anything Ukrainian. Just why doth the lady protest so much?

    Aside from incorrectly translating the last sentences, she makes up and inserts “robbing the people”. The corresponding Ukrainian sentence does not say that nor does it convey any connotation like that. A few lines above that, she writes “hell-bent on destruction”, where the original only says “on purpose attempting to de-activate”. In another spot, the original “For example” becomes editorialized to “Just one example”. And there are more…

    At the very beginning, the first two words “УВАГА ЗВЕРНЕННЯ” mean “Attention, an address to the reader.” Her reading of “Please read and share our appeal!” is more projection that any sort of translation. Perhaps the answer lies in her own 1,000 word “confession” she called to mobilize her fans to spread the word and actively write to the TSO, an action roundly condemned by her replacement Stewart Goodyear.

    Or perhaps Ms. Lisitsa’s translation was so inaccurate because she spent so much time recently on the run following the cancellation of her concerts in Indonesia?

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    150 former soldiers in Boris’s report according to western media…

  • Valentina.Lisitsa says:

    1. My translation was read and approved.  I am not responsible for changes done since the publication to the original text under the pressure to blunt the message. The history of edits can be easily accessed by clicking “edits” tab of the post. The attack on the theater for daring to make the case public continues meanwhile…
    2. This, in words of Mr. Bryttan, “non-story” ( non-story for those who send in weapons, a big story for those sending their husbands and sons)  received Ukrainian media attention ONLY AFTER it was widely publicised by joint effort of musicians, bloggers and spread into Western and Russian media.
    3. The official response, astonishing in its callousness ( the man responsible for the draft said that it’s not the end of a life,  some may get off the hook if they are deemed physically unfit or have many children – physically unfit ballet dancers?) also claimed that the theater made a clerical error in not requesting draft exemption.
    The theater emphatically stated that the request was made in a timely way but was DENIED.
    If Mr. Bryttan wants to argue about veracity of this statement he should do it openly on theater’s Facebook page, not cowardly on page three of comments here.
    4. Personal attacks at my skills as a musician are to be expected from someone who bills himself, when performing in small towns of Ukraine, as a  “famous American conductor”, I kid you not. The fact that this famous conductor has never heard me play is highly irrelevant, of course.
    5. Rejoicing in difficulties of others is a sign of big heart, isn’t it? I am delighted to know how many happy moments the forced cancelation of Jakarta concert gave to readers of this blog. I suggest Mr. Lebrecht shouldn’t give any updates on this story ( e.g. my return to Jakarta in two weeks) lest it breaks the sensitive heart of Mr. Bryttan. I had to cancel a sold-out concert because certain people wanted a “share” in proceeds and threatened in case of non-compliance . This is just like Ukraine by the way, but hey, I am not going to “spread propaganda” here. Only positive.
    To end on a positive note ( also my farewell note)  I would like to request one, last, favor from Mr. Lebrecht and the curious readers.
    Mr.Bryttan is a contributing editor to Ukrainian Weekly newspaper. It’s from pages of this paper he proceeded to launch attacks against me.
    I request you to read one single editorial from this esteemed media source. It’s titled “Jews for Yanukovich”
    No need to say anything further.

  • Adrian Bryttan says:

    It is well-nigh surreal to read how Ms. Lisitsa, the Tweeter of intolerance and stereotypes, hate speech and racism – now writes ruefully about any “signs of a big heart”…

    Typically with Ms. Lisitsa, we have learned whenever she punctuates with “I kid you not” – that usually means there is deception afoot. A previous notorious example comes to mind – from her 1,000 word FaceBook ‘confession’ : “… Ukrainian Prime Minister who called Russian-speaking Southern and Eastern Ukrainians “SUBHUMANS”! Yes, I kid you not…”

    Ms. Lisitsa knows full well how many lies are loaded in her statement above and in the myths she fabricated surrounding her internet alias of “NedoUkrainka.”