Culture Supplement

"Goca e Kaçanik" - national musical drama

Descriptive Text

The only composer of the opera is Rauf Dhomi (1945), who in a certain period felt the need to express himself through opera to fill the void in local creativity. It is precisely the opera "Goca e Kaçaniku", the first Kosovar-Albanian opera by the composer Dhomi, an opera which represents a reflection and view of cultural and artistic trends and the needs of a people at a certain time. The music in this popular epic emerges from the dramatic content, because the text and dramatic action are imperative to the creation of musical drama.

Opera is one of the most complex forms of stage music. This is because the operatic work consists of many components such as drama, choreography, scenography, vocal song and others, all with different artistic nature and ways of creative expression. Their combination opens a wide spectrum for inspiration to authors and opportunities for visual and auditory impressions on the public. Exactly this synthetic character of the opera for more than four centuries is a tremendous challenge for the creativity of a whole constellation of colossi of the composing pen and always more reason for a subjective approach to the priorities of the theoretical formulation of the phenomenon.

The roots of this form are found in ancient Greek tragedies and comedies and continue with liturgical dramas in the medieval period. At the time of the renaissance, new thematic and musical contents enter, which lead to the perfection and completion of the expressive means of dramatic and musical language. These tendencies in the baroque, again, become an expression of subjective experiences and are more sensitively manifested in the musical scene where opera has the main task. During the 18th century, the emancipation of the peoples of the wider European region, which emphasizes the romantic rebellion against the musical concept of Western European culture, will develop with the introduction of music NAtIONAL. Therefore, alongside the language, social-political projections and the concept of romanticism have a major importance for the content of the so-called national opera and not only in the use of folk music.

In this chronological sequence, the emergence of the national opera in the 19th century in the creativity of composers from Slavic countries, such as M. Glinka, A. Borodin, NR Korsakov, B. Smetana, etc., is of exceptional importance. Its development is based on the use of historical literature and national color in music, with which the components of the opera work are modified according to the rich heritage of popular creativity in the given social and artistic achievements.

Therefore, the history of opera has difficulties with the comment of the term national opera, which according to the definition satisfies "only national only folk music and books based on national history". In the 20th century, the opera serves to tell the national values ​​of the younger cultures, while for the established peoples it is also an opportunity to experiment with new compositional techniques and musical and scenic forms. In the second half of this century, the activities of multi-ethnic environments where many peoples live and create are expressed, therefore the national culture itself is observed as a hybrid. From here, the question is imposed whether the national opera in the 20th century as a way of creativity and communication will be a means to show its own culture, will it be transformed into a hybrid or will its participation in the exchange of cultural goods be minimized.

Under these conditions, we are interested in how this form has influenced musical creativity and musical activity in an ethnically divided environment such as Kosovo. We started from the fact that artistic music in this environment began to develop very late compared to the largest number of European countries. Over time, due to political and socio-historical circumstances, Kosovo goes through dramatic conditions in order to show the need for the formation of its own state, which it achieves in 2008. These stages filled with turmoil in significantly influence the musical life through the underdevelopment and/or slow development of professional, musical institutions and staff, which results in a very modest musical life. Thus, in Kosovo, there is still no national opera house, nor an adequate stage for the realization of opera performances. The non-existence of the conditions for the realization of the opera genre is reflected on the interest of the population in the cultivation of operatic literature, even among local composers, whose production is negligible. It is only about two operas: "Goca e Kaçaniku" (1972) and "Dasma Arbëreshe" (1984), in the opus of the composer Rauf Dhomi, of which only the second one experienced the full performance on the local stage in 2003.

As a comparison, in neighboring countries, e.g. in Macedonia, the National Opera House was formed in January 1948 in Skopje, when the ensembles on the musical stage work in the composition of the State Opera (Ortakov 1981:82). The first national opera "Goce" by Kiril Makedonski was written in 1953, and it was performed in 1954. In Serbia, in 1903, the first national opera by S. Binički "At dawn" was performed with dramatic artists, while since 1920 when the Belgrade Opera House was founded, where operatic works are performed at a professional level. In the Croatian National Opera "Love and Smira" by V. Lisinski premiered in 1846 (Andreis 1976). In Albania, the Opera and Ballet Theater in Tirana was founded in 1953, while the first national opera "Mrika" by P. Jakova was performed in 1959.

The research so far in the field of musicology in Kosovo does not deal with the reasons for the birth of opera works, because they consider that the motivation, namely the weak echo in this field of creativity is the result of the non-existence of the opera house (Berisha 1997). The purpose of this work is to determine and get to know the reasons for the emergence of the operatic creativity of Albanians in Kosovo. For this reason, we decided that the topic of our research will be operatic works, which constitute the first condition for the existence of the musical-scenic opus, for the formation of musical thought and its materialization, which again depends on the choice of dramatic content, vocal soloists and realization their adequate. Considering the volume of this work, we will limit ourselves only to the first operatic work, and from here also in defining our theme.

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Scene from the Kosovar premiere of "Kaçanik's Oyster" on February 23, 2024, "AMC Hall" in Pristina (Photo: MKRS)

The first operatic work in the artistic music of Albanians in Kosovo

During the conception of the global view of the researched phenomenon, we are guided by the facts that the composition of the opera means: a high level of musical education, creative affinity, knowledge of the opera literature and, in any case, the existence of the local opera scene, as a generative motive for the composing production. With this, we will prove the thesis that in the second half of the 1945th century in Kosovo, a part of the primary conditions mentioned for the appearance and development of this musical-stage genre are met. In this way, we point out the other reasons that speak to the fact that the non-existence of the national opera house does not motivate composers to write operatic works. The only composer of the opera is Rauf Dhomi (XNUMX), who in a certain period felt the need to express himself through opera to fill the void in local creativity.

Reflection of the tendencies of a people at a given time

It is precisely the opera "Goca e Kaçaniku", the first Kosovar-Albanian opera, by the composer Rauf Dhomi, an opera which represents a reflection and view of cultural and artistic trends and the needs of a people at a certain time. The music in this popular epic emerges from the dramatic content, because the text and dramatic action are imperative to the creation of musical drama.

The opera was written for 8 soloists (soprano, alto, two tenors, three baritones, bass-baritone), mixed choir and symphony orchestra in 1950 bars in total. The musical style in the work is based on the veristic direction of the opera and from the musical aspect, it uses tonic and scenic dynamics and elements that are in the spirit of the Albanian folklore tradition. According to the program content of the dramatic action, the music develops in two directions: lyrical-romantic and epic-dramatic and patriotic character, which at the same time is easily accepted and in function of the text. The text is presented according to the melismatic principle, most often with a 1-3 tone syllable.

In fact, the length and duration of the syllables and their mutual relations create the metric, precisely the rhythmic framework of the work. The overall dramaturgy oscillates from the quiet intimate song to the powerful vocal-instrumental chant of the lyrics and music. In this gradation there are also dynamic characteristics, in lyrical moments, which the composer has presented through arias and duets between lovers, up to ff in the epic, which is achieved with the massive performances of the choir, which from a melodic-harmonic point of view are conceived homophonically and are easy to interpret. Chorus performances with soloists are found in the only massive and at the same time most powerful scene in this popular epic and hymn to patriotism and human heroism, at the end of the work. "Goca e Kačaniku" appeared for the first time in Prizren, in 1978 in a fragmentary way - in honor of 100th anniversary of the League of Prizren, with arias of the main characters under the interpretation of Hermina Leka-Delhysa (soprano) and Bashkim Paçuku (tenor), with the Radio Prishtina orchestra under the direction of Aleksandar Lekaj. The opera experienced its full performance in 1979 at the Opera and Ballet Theater in Tirana under the direction of Rifat Teqjes, with soloists Elvira Gjata (soprano) and Gaqo Çako (tenor). Kadri Metohu was the producer of the show, Rozmari Jorganxhi worked with the choir, Hysen Devolli set designer.

Libretto and score

The libretto is based on the historical novel of the same title by Milto Sotir Gurrë, adapted by Ajmone Dhomi and Jusuf Buxhovi, in which the war between the Albanians and the army of the Ottoman Empire from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century is described. This is the main epic side which according to the libretto also has lyrics, shown through the love of the young girl Pafika and her lover Trimor during the time of this war. The scenography and costume design also come from the libretto and are in the spirit of the characteristics of national folklore.

The libretto is divided into two acts, three scenes. IN the first act Pafika's house is presented in a family environment where together with the parents they think that the time has come for their daughter to get married. This romantic image is destroyed the moment they find out that the forces of the Ottoman Empire want to destroy every patriotic activity of the Kosovar Albanians. IN the second scene of the first act shows the Albanian people armed and prepared for war. One of the richest peasants Rus Bushi goes to talk with the chief officer of the imperial army Fikali. The officer offers him gold for obtaining key information about the Albanian army. Trimor discovers the treacherous intention of Bush, who, in order to save himself, accuses Trimor of treason in front of all the people. In this state, only Pafika trusts her lover.

in act two, scene three war is shown. At that time, Bushi and the officer try to kidnap Pafika, Trimor's love, but they don't succeed because Trimor manages to free her. In this fight, Pafika kills Bush, while the frightened officer runs away. In this scene, as the conclusion of the entire opera, the celebration of victory and liberation with songs and the glorification of Pafika's bravery is presented.

The analysis of the work is based on existing materials, scores and clarinet pieces. It is specific that a part of the work, the overture, exists only in the transcription for piano, while it is missing in the original score, which is indicated by the audio-visual description and the author himself.

Until the musical unity of the dramatic work

"Goca e Kaçanik" is an opera in which a series of soloists, vocal and vocal-instrumental chamber works are replaced, such as: arias, duets, trios, as well as choral and instrumental performances. They are distinguished between them mainly through the tempo, tonality and realization structure which is in accordance with the dramatic approach. In some places, recitations are also found before the arias: such as The old man, Rusbashi, Pafika, etc. At the end of the opera, in the Finale, there is a widely prepared and massive scene where the entire production team is focused. This constitutes the peak, the culmination of the act, in this case of the entire work, which according to its volume and dramatic content, but also according to the tonic and scenic element, through which the dramatic action is emphasized, reaches the structure of the musical drama.

Acts are divided into plays-scenes and scenes that are recomposed and interwoven directly one after the other. During this, periodization is ignored, there are no clear divisions of the cadence type and endings that ensure the uninterrupted musical flow in the work. As we mentioned, in some places there are some recitative parts which are generally reflected with repeating tones with gradational movements, through which the separation of recitative and aria disappears and the melodic vocal style comes through these two extremes, up to the ariosoto.

The musical unity of the dramatic work is precisely achieved by the application of the leitmotif technique. In fact, leitmotifs convey and comment on the dramatic action, transform or combine. Very often one leitmotif organically grows into another, thereby foreshadowing even deeper connections in the work, as for example Trimori and the same motif in the duet of Pafika and Trimori (pp. 197 and 211 of the piano transcription) .

The "a 2" (à due) orchestra has been enlarged and enriched with new instruments, and in some places even symphonized. The score of the orchestra is prepared and complicated as is the case with the elaboration of the motif and the polyphony of the thematic material. The orchestra has an equal role with the vocal parts, due to which in some places it is given a primary role in the exposition of the musical content, more precisely the motif, with the transfer of the thematic material from one instrument to another, with the so-called symphonization (p. 84 , 1 measure before number 28, from flute to clarinet and bassoon and from violins to violas, cellos and double basses. From here the symphonic-instrumental component together with the vocal component, soloist, but also that of the choir, in the form of ariosity which rules on the recitative element, plays an important role in this musical drama. During this, the scenes are clear, at some moments separated by the recitative and ariostic parts, as well as by the dynamics of the dramatic development of the work. Overview of the orchestra given in the score: Flauto piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboe (II ob. Muta in Corno inglese), 2 Clarintetti in B (II Cl. muta in Clarinetto basso), 2 Bassoon, 4 Corni in F, 2 Trombe in B, 3 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani , Tamburo militare, Piatti, Viloini I, Violini II, Viola, Violoncello, Contrabassi.

The choral style dominates the entire opera. The work is based on the principles of the traditional major-minor harmonic system, with modulations in the closest tonalities, with the music treated in the national musical style, presented, mainly, in the instrumental parts. These folklore characteristics are prepared and stylized through the appearance of numerous elements that we will present during the analysis of the constituent parts, and in this context we will mention: the use of irregular rhythms – 5/8, 7/8, 9/8, 10/8; the stylized display of some timbres of popular instruments, both in solo instruments and in groups of several instruments; then using the interval magnified seconds in the melody as one of the most important characteristics in the Albanian folklore melody; the performance of the folk song which is stylized in several sections that are entrusted to the part of the choir. In fact, the author in his composition does not use popular source instruments, but to describe them, he stylizes through the appearance of various orchestral timbres; the use of ornaments in the melody, in the form of paratact, mordent, etc.

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Rauf Dhomi is the first and only composer of operatic works and founder of the national style of vocal-instrumental forms. He is a representative of the national cultural identity of Kosovo (Photo: Arben Llapashtica)

Rauf Dhomi – composer of the first national opera

Rauf Dhomi is the first and only composer of operatic works and founder of the national style of vocal-instrumental forms. He is a representative of the national cultural identity of Kosovo, in which inspiration from folklore is a guarantee for national existence itself in the context of other European creative spaces. From the modes of joint activity in the folklore-composer relationship, his relationship is characterized by the inclusion of the folklore idiom in his musical language. Composer Rauf Dhomi was born in Gjakovë on December 4, 1945. After completing secondary music education in Prizren (1961-1965), Dhomi continued his studies in composition and conducting at the Faculty of Musical Art in Sarajevo in the class of Professor Miroslav Shiler.

His years as a student are also related to the period when the development of Kosovo's artistic music takes a serious course in terms of the awakening of national consciousness and the desire to create a characteristic creativity, different from modern European-Western music in the world. For these reasons, immediately after graduating in 1970, he continued his post-graduate studies with his professor Schiller in Sarajevo, which he completed in 1972. In this period, he simultaneously wrote the music for his first opera. Rauf Dhomi is one of the composers who, in the Kosovar environment, realizes his professional commitment as a composer, professor and music creator, initiator in the formation of musical life. In 1965 in Gjakovë R. Dhomi founded the Men's Choir which is still active and constitutes the pillar of musical life in this city. In 1969, he began his teaching profession as a music education teacher at the "Hajdar Dushi" gymnasium in Gjakovë. Soon after graduating in 1971, he moved to the Pedagogical Faculty as head of the music department. In continuous action for the presentation, affirmation and development of Kosovar-Albanian artistic music, Dhomi is one of the founders of the Association of Composers of Kosovo from 1972. Among the other most important functions, we share his commitment as director of the Kosovo Philharmonic from year 2003 to 2006. For his composing activity he is the laureate of many prizes starting from his student days with the first prizes in 1967-1968 for chamber music and vocals in the Yugoslav youth competitions; December award in 1980; the award for the best music at the Theater Festival in Belgrade in 1990. He reached the peak of professional and social appreciation in 1996 when he was elected a regular member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo. Vocal and vocal-instrumental works occupy a central place in R. Dhomi's creativity. Particularly important is his contribution in the field of musical-stage art with operas and ballets, among which we can distinguish: "Goca e Kaçaniku", "Arbëreshe Wedding" - opera and "E buka more" - ballet. However, Dhomi's opus includes various types of compositions: from small forms such as solo songs to large vocal-instrumental masses and cantatas. The most numerous are compositions written for mixed choir with spiritual and secular content, as well as stylized folkloric and patriotic songs, with piano or orchestral accompaniment.

In chamber music, Dhomi appears as the author of sonatas for string quartets, piano sonatas, rondo for cello and piano and several miniatures for piano with the titles: "Dardane Impressions" and "Albanese Nocturno". Among the orchestral works we can distinguish "Symphonic Scherco", "Solemn Overture", "Epopeja", symphonic suite in five times. In music, Rauf Dhomi does not use contemporary compositional techniques that differ from most other European contemporaries. His creativity is in the style of late romanticism, with which he is more traditional compared to the representatives of his generation of composers. According to this, he is correct in the use of classical forms filled with harmonic solutions in which the national anthem circulates without quotations, with simple melodic lines inspired by the characteristics of Albanian songs and dances. Precisely for this reason, in Kosovar musicology, R. Dhomi is classified as a composer who is very close to the national romantic oriented style.

Opera in two parts, three scenes

The opera is divided into two acts, three scenes. The whole event is set at the time of the National Renaissance in the city of Kaçanik. IN the first act Pafika's house is presented in a family environment where, together with the parents, they think that the time has come for their daughter to marry, with a brave, honest boy who is ready to give his life for freedom. This boy was Trimori. This romantic view is destroyed the moment they find out that the forces of the Ottoman Empire want to destroy every patriotic activity of the Kosovar Albanians. It was the time when this Empire, through the Young Turks, tried to deceive the masses that it will supposedly provide them with freedom and independence. IN the second scene of the first act shows the Albanian people armed and prepared for war. One of the richest Rusbashi villagers goes to talk with the chief officer of the imperial army Fiqali. The officer offers him gold for obtaining key information about the Albanian army. Trimor discovers Rusbash's treacherous intention, who, in order to save himself, accuses Trimor of treason in front of all the people. In this state, only Pafika trusts her lover. Trimor is held in custody, while the crackles of the enemy's rifles are heard. In the Kaçanik Gorge, the Albanians have set up an ambush to prevent the enemy from passing. IN second act, third scene the war continues. At that time, Rusbashi and the officer try to kidnap Pafika, Trimor's love, but they fail because Trimor manages to free her. In this fight, Pafika disarms and kills Rusbash, while the frightened officer runs away. In this scene, as the conclusion of the entire opera, the celebration of victory and liberation with songs and the glorification of Pafika's bravery is presented.

Dr. sc. Rreze Kryeziu-Breznica is a musicologist