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Abesalom da Eteri

Abesalom da Eteri
Opera by Zacharia Paliashvili
Georgian classical composer Zacharia Paliashvili in the early 1900s - crop.png
Native title აბესალომ და ეთერი (Abesalom da Eteri)
Other title Georgian: ეთერიანი, translit.: eteriani
Librettist Petre Mirianashvili
Language Georgian
Based on Eteriani, Georgian folk epic romance
Premiere 21 February 1919 (1919-02-21)
Georgian National Opera Theater, Tbilisi

Abesalom da Eteri (Georgian: აბესალომ და ეთერი; Abesalom and Eteri) is an opera by the Georgian composer Zacharia Paliashvili and librettist Petre Mirianashvili (b. 1860) based on a medieval Georgian folk poem Eteriani. Composed between 1909 and 1918, the work was partly staged in 1913 and first premiered in its present-day form on 21 February 1919 at the Georgian National Opera Theater in Tbilisi. The opera is an eclectic fusion of folk songs and traditional 19th century Romantic classical themes. In 2004, several excerpts from this opera were adapted as the National Anthem of Georgia.

When opera was first introduced in present-day Georgia during the 1840s, the performances were held in Italian and other Western European languages traditionally dominating the operatic art. At the time, as part of his conciliatory reforms, Russian Viceroy Mikhail Vorontsov went on to patronize Georgian-language theater performances in the newly established Tiflis Imperial Theater. This was not without controversy, as not all Russians were enthusiastic about Georgian contributions to the city's cultural development; some objected to Georgian-language works and had them moved to different days, rather than precede regular opera performances as it was done up to that point.

First native forms of the Georgian-language opera began to develop in the late 19th century, with the emergency of artists like Meliton Balanchivadze, whose 1897 work Tamar the Wily, later known as Darejan the Wily, was perhaps the earliest Georgian opera. This was followed by a more fully developed opera in several acts, Christine, composed by Revaz Dimitris dze Gogniashvili/Prince Gogniev (1893 – 1967). These early works were limited to a relatively niche audience and did not gain much popular acclaim in Georgia. Paliashvili's Abesalom da Eteri was in comparison a high point of the Georgian operatic movement in the waning years of the Russian Empire. It was the first Georgian-language opera to garner widespread recognition in the Georgian and later Soviet artistic society. As a testament to this status, for the past several decades Abesalom da Eteri has traditionally been the opening performance of the season at the Georgian National Opera Theater.


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