"Goca e Kaçanik" ready for a new chapter in the history of art in Kosovo

The first opera of Kosovo, "Goca e Kaçaniku" by Rauf Dhomi, premieres tonight. In itself, it carries the weight of a historical event, but at the same time it also reveals the contrast. The stage is gigantic, but in a private hall, which also increases the cost of such a production. It costs 300 thousand euros. It returns to the public after the 1979 premiere in Tirana. Its director, Nikolin Gurakuqi, says that "Goca..." proves national dignity. "The staging of this opera is a great event for the history of art in Kosovo", said the deputy director of the Kosovo Opera, Meriton Ferizi.

The third Saturday of July 1979 at the Opera and Ballet Theater in Tirana was reserved for a performance from Kosovo. For the first time, an opera by an author from Kosovo would be given in the capital of Albania. On Sunday, July 22 of that year, the first replay was given. The days of the week and together with the dates are the only handwritten notes on the poster of that time that bears the stamp "Archive" on the right side. With books by Ajmone Dhomi and Jusuf Buxhov and music by Rauf Dhomi, "Goca e Kaçaniku" would send to Tirana a fragment of history not only of music from Kosovo. Almost 45 years later, this play is staged in Kosovo.

With a giant stage - usually with improvisations in private halls - the Kosovo Opera tonight (Friday) will have its premiere, while the first and only rerun for this time, on Sunday. With the portrait of Idriz Sefer in the background in one of the scenes, it is known that the history of an eastern part of Kosovo unfolds there, where the hero who acted in the 19th and 20th centuries was based.

Under the direction of Kadri Metoh in 1979, the young Nikolin Gurakuqi was part of the show as an extra at that time. Now, after a long career as a director, Gurakuqi has the burden of being a director.

After a month of work, "Goca e Kaçaniku" - composed by maestro Dhomi in 1971-1972 - will be presented to the public as the third production of the Kosovo Opera, an institution founded in August 2021. In the main role, that of Pafika , the soprano Adelina Paloja, the play goes through the individual and collective history of the people of Kosovo. It is about a girl who sees the future and kills the traitor who tries to open a way for the Ottomans to conquer her country. With Albanian costumes prepared by Vesa Kraja and the massiveness brought to the stage by the National Ballet of Kosovo, the show, as far as it has been seen in rehearsals, turns out to be very representative, apart from the symbolism that it carried as the premiere and as the first opera of Kosovo. Tickets for the premiere were sold two hours after they were available, while the interest for the rerun is also great.

"This is a work that deals with the heroic resistance of the people of Kaçanik to prevent the enemy armies from crossing Kaçanik and occupying Kosovo. Of course, in the center stands the heroic figure of the old man's daughter and the old woman who are two villagers of the area. She is educated as an honest and patriotic Albanian. This is the line that dominates the entire work", explained the director Gurakuqi while talking about the show where even the scenography consisting of traditional fences brings back the spirit of past centuries on stage.

According to Gurakuqi, the other line is that of the traitor. Rusbash's character cooperates with the Turkish officer and tells him secrets. He is discovered and killed by Pafika. She does a heroic act", Guraku said on KTV's "Express" show on Thursday. Gurakuqi, who is known as an opera director in Albania, elaborated that the message of the play is clear.

"The main message I wanted to convey as a director is that whoever steps on this land has found, finds and will find death. It connects the past and the present and it is understood who is the present", he said shortly before the rehearsal on Thursday night, where the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, was also present.

According to Gurakuqi, the operatic compositional tradition in Kosovo has a very beautiful work in its bosom. He described "Goca..." as creativity with a national spirit, melodious music and beautiful colors.

"It conveys the national resistance against the invader. Some time ago, foreign forces invaded the territory. I have not only supported this, I have also glorified it. I have included the ballet to make the work monumental. Those who come will see the national dignity there and also themselves within the dignity", he said.

The historical period to which the work refers also coincides with the time of the Albanian League of Prizren held in 1878. On the 100th anniversary of the League, "Goca e Kaçaniku" - based on the novel by Milto Sotir Gurra - was given in Prizren and Pristina as a concert version. Now comes the show. Adapted by Edon Ramadani, who is also the conductor of the Orchestra, 90 percent of the cast is local.

The deputy director of the Kosovo Opera, Meriton Ferizi, has said that the staging of this opera is a great event for the history of art in Kosovo. He mentioned the fact that the performance will be given in a private hall since the country does not have an opera house. The attempts and failures of nearly two decades to build this facility could be a separate show. But this does not diminish the greatness of "Goca...". It can only increase its price. The entire production, according to the institution's data, touches the figure of 300 thousand euros. The enthusiasm beyond caste has also touched the public. The fact of the sale of tickets for the premiere is indicative.

"It is a good indicator that they have received the first Kosovar opera very well and eagerly, and this increases the responsibility of the institution to have more operatic titles during the year, because the public wants such an activity", said the substitute of the director of the Opera, Meriton Ferizi. The plans are for the show to return in the fall and be presented in Skopje and Tirana, so that the story unfolded in it will touch a wider audience.