MURDER IN KIEV OPERA HOUSE
He had been shot, but rose to tear off his coat, showing the blood on his shirt. Pointing to the opera box where Tsar Nicolas sat, Peter Stolypin shouted, “I am happy to die for my Tsar!” and then crossed himself. This was the scene at the Kiev Opera House in 1911. The victim was the Prime Minister who had introduced reforms that resulted in the hangings of so many people that they called the ropes “Stolypin neckties”
Unfortunately, I did not know this story when I went to the opera with my friend ,Irena. The Kiev Opera house burned to the ground after non- extinguished candles set it on fire in 1896. The largest musical libraries of Europe were lost that day, along with costumes and props. The Opera House was rebuilt in the Neo Renaissance style and became the National Opera House of Kiev,Ukraine. It has one of the largest stages in Europe, with excellent engineering. It is certainly one of the most prestigious in all of Ukraine or Russia. The drama of the Murder in the Kiev Opera House must have been unbelievable, but for me this evening with Irena produced one of the most beautiful performances that I have ever seen. I did not have to know the language, just absorb the beauty. Our driver waited patiently outside for Irena and me during the entire presentation. I found the people of Ukraine to be warm and friendly unless they had lived there during the time of Communism. The older people seemed greatly suspicious, but the younger people of the computer generation were worldly-wise and interested in everything Western.
Digging out from communism has not been an easy task. Everything in today’s Ukraine is in short supply and the people feel the effects of the “Russian style” mafia. Having gone to this country to teach English at a Christian university, I heard the stories of those who had their lives taken when refusing to sell property to those in charge or their businesses were burned.
It was also extremely sad when looking at the children of the state-run orphanages. We had been given a “dog and pony” show as we strolled the buildings. The bathrooms had perfectly white towels hanging orderly in a row….while the children stayed outside on the playground. Surely something would have been a little used…but was not. We also noticed that the children did not smile. There was a real sadness that hung over the place. (See slide show) Later, we traveled to a Christian run orphanage where the children were happy, laughing and smiling. Yes, they too were short of everything, but the atmosphere was completely different.
Irena and I went to St. Sophia Russian Orthodox Church in Kiev. It was constructed in 1017 to honor Prince Yaroslavl the Wise after his victory over Asian nomadic tribes. The monastery was founded in 1630. The beauty of this place is hard to describe. Therefore, I will allow the slide presentation below to do that for me.
There was a murder at the Opera House in 1911. There has been much blood shed in Russia. Let’s pray that the new found freedom that Ukraine has experienced in the last years will see them through to a peaceful time. No longer must they have sad faces. Although the older generation seems to look with suspicion, the internet has brought them into a new world. I am glad that I was brought into theirs. BOYER WRITES BY N.W BOYER (See slide show below)
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