Svadba "A Wedding" by Ana Sokolović at Waterperry Opera

     It was a privilege to be present yesterday at the UK professional premiere of this work, written ten years ago by Serbian composer Ana Sokolović, who is now based in Quebec.

     This work by a woman composer presents six female characters, and the production was directed, designed and conducted by women - Rebecca Meltzer, Grace Venning and Lada Valešova. 

     Based around the traditional Serbian ritual that precedes a wedding, It celebrates female friendship and interconnectedness. The bride's best female friends visit her the day before, bring gifts and demonstrate their sisterhood, before she crosses the boundary into her new life. In Svadba the six women chatter, dance and play, using mime and laughter to re-enact the games of childhood and the pains of growing up. Voices use pulsing, dynamic rhythms, re-iterating nonsense words percussively or sustaining ethereal sounds, and bodies fling themselves into wild whirling dances then collapse exhausted in shared hilarity. 

     When the moment comes for the bride to be dressed in her wedding finery and presented with flowers by all her friends, she experiences a mixture of joy and sorrow. She is crossing a threshold that means she will now be more distant from her fellow-females, and unlike most brides in opera and drama, she is aware that this involves loss as well as gain. The solo, sung by Ellie Neate (Milica), was wistful and expressed her mixed feelings.

As a musical experience, Svadba is both avant-garde and highly enjoyable. The Greek theatre at Waterperry made a wonderful, ideal setting, both visually and acoustically, enabling stereophonic effects and balletic spectacle to enhance the performance. Waterperry Opera deserves much credit for putting on this joyously feminist and life-affirming work.

                                                       Ana Sokolović