Metropolitan Opera Commissions New Ukrainian Opera

By Francisco Salazar

The Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater New Works Program have announced the commission of a new work by Ukrainian composer Maxim Kolomiiets and librettist George Brant.

The new opera will be based on the true events of Ukrainian mothers who embarked on an arduous 3,000-mile journey behind enemy lines into Russia to rescue their children forcibly detained there by Russian authorities. The characters in the opera will be largely fictional, but the story is based on true events on the ground in Ukraine.

In a statement, General Manager Peter Gelb said, “We’re proud to continue to support Ukraine on the cultural front. The heroism of these Ukrainian mothers in the face of Russian atrocities is a story that should be amplified theatrically and is in the good creative hands of Maxim and George.”

According to the Met press release, the idea to commission a Ukrainian composer was born in a meeting last fall between Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, and Gelb during her visit to the Metropolitan Opera.

After that meeting, the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture invited composers to apply and received applications from 72 Ukrainian composers.

Composer Kolomiiets has built a career both as a composer and as an oboist, having written solo instrumental, chamber, and orchestral pieces. He has written two operas, “Espenbaum” and “Night.”

The new opera marks the second Metropolitan Opera / Lincoln Center Theater New Works Program commission for American playwright and librettist George Brant. He has written numerous plays, including “Grounded,” which was developed as an opera through the program with composer Jeanine Tesori before being given a full commission by the Met.

According to the New York Times, the Ukrainian opera will come to the stage by 2027 or 2028.