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V.Bibik opera Flight

V.Bibik opera Flight

World premiere of the opera Flight by Valentin Bibik

In October 2010, the world premiere of the opera Flight after the play by Mikhail Bulgakov took place in concert version. The opera was written by a prominent Ukrainian composer Valentin Bibik, a persecuted and unappreciated genius of the generation of the Sixtiers. The opera, written in 1972, was repeatedly prohibited. The current performance is organized by an outstanding conductor Roman Kofman, the composer’s friend, who has been playing Bibik’s music from the very first piece.

A large-scale score of the Flight opera by Valentin Bibik suggests being performed by a huge orchestra, a choir and a great number of soloists. The Kyiv performance was carried out by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine, the Credo Chamber Choir (choir master – Bogdan Plish), and first-class soloists: Taras Shtonda, Alla Rodina, Sergiy Bortnik, Olga Tabulina, Suren Maksutov and Olga Chubareva. The libretto was written by the composer himself.

The mystery by Valentin Bibik is lament for the last century Russia that disappeared in the years of the revolution: “Immortality, a quiet bright water-side; our way is reaching for it. Rest in peace you who has finished your flight!”

The spectacular success of the concert performance of the opera, which caused a new wave of significant interest to Valentin Bibik and his work, to opera music not only in the Ukrainian and Russian music world, but also in Europe, gives hope for a possible theatre production and long life of this undoubted opera masterpiece of the late 20th century.


“Blessed is he who has finished his flight…”
– comments on the world premiere of the Flight opera by Valentin Bibik

Memories of the composer’s daughter, Victoria Bibik:

“The idea of ​​writing an opera based on a play Flight by Mikhail Bulgakov came to my father in the late 1960s, when he was not even 30. In 1969 in Moscow he met Elena Sergeyevna Bulgakova, and soon she sent him a letter with her blessing for the creation of the opera. When my father finished the composition in 1972, he showed it at the Maly Opera Theatre in Leningrad, where the opera was immediately accepted for production. But shortly before the premiere the party authorities banned the performance. The telegram received from the party authorities read: “The music on the story of the White Guards should not be heard in the city named after the leader of the revolution”. This was followed by a number of prohibitions of the production.

Desperate to have the opera performed at the theatre, my father showed individual scenes to fellow composers, performers, and the music was becoming more and more famous in their circle. But after another prohibition because of the topic, undesirable at that time, and the improper “vision” of Bulgakov’s play, and, of course, because of the composer’s bright individual style, my father gave up all attempts to introduce the opera to a wide audience. So the score was put into a desk drawer for a long time. The theme of Flight, which my father considered the symbol of the twentieth century, thrilled him for all his life.

My father never heard the performance of his opera during his lifetime… After his death in 2003, when I was organizing the performance of my father’s works around the world, I was very worried that in his native country, Ukraine, many of his early works might only be known to musicians and listeners of his generation, but younger musicians and a new generation of listeners only knew the composer’s name: they were mostly unfamiliar with his music, as in the previous 10-15 years only a few performances took place in Ukraine, and most of my father’s works, including the largest and the most significant ones, had not been performed for a long time.

In 2008, when I arrived in Kyiv after a long break, with a suitcase full of CDs and scores and with a great desire to change the situation, I saw a huge interest to my father’s music and artists striving to discover it and to perform it for the audience. Over the year Kyiv saw the performance of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, instrumental concertos and chamber music.

When I met Roman Kofman, an outstanding contemporary conductor and my father’s friend, who had known and performed his music for a very long time, he asked me to give him the score of the opera and said he would like to perform it in Kyiv. As the opera had never been performed, the score was not brought to the perfect state: not all tempos were indicated, some string bowings were missing and there was no piano score (in 1984 my father made ​​a second version of the opera). Roman Isaakovich did a great job creating ​​his version of the score, his own vision of the opera.