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Unique opera on show in Semič

Semič, 29 December - Semič in south Slovenia is a town best known for its wine and vistas, but it also has a rich musical tradition. Now, a signature string instrument known as tamburica will take centre stage in what the authors say is the first opera in the world written specifically for a tamburica orchestra.

Semič.
The first opera in the world written specifically for a tamburica orchestra.
Photo: KC Semič

Scheduled to premiere on Sunday, the opera Ambrož and Katarina is a period saga set in the 17th century in the nearby village of Gradac. It tells about the forbidden love between Ambrož, a peasant, and Katarina, a noblewoman.

Composer Gregor Zagorc says he thought of the idea in 2015, when he and a tamburica band staged a night of opera music and realised that tamburicas and opera voices go well together.

Since he wanted the story to relate to the Bela Krajina region, he drew on an old story from Gradac about forbidden love. The libretto was written by Nina Novak Oiseau using historical sources and local lore.

The music is almost exclusively performed by tamburicas, with some wind instruments and percussions added for dramatic effect. The piece has a full set of opera features, from arias to duets, tercets and choruses.

Performed by the Cultural and Artistic Association Dobreč, the opera will be on show at the Kulturni Dom Semič, with additional performances scheduled for 3-5 January.

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© STA, 2019