On Sunday, October 24, the National Philharmonic Society staged a concert in memory of the outstanding Ukrainian singer Anatoly Solovyanenko (who passed away this July, never appearing with a solo concert scheduled precisely for that date). That night everybody in the audience sensed his presence. His bewitching voice sounded before the concert and during the intermission. The requiem concert ended with the recorded final scene from Hulak- Artemovsky’s A Cossack Beyond the Danube. All rose from their seats listening. The event was more evidence that Anatoly Solovyanenko’s art is undying; also, it reminded everybody of the tragic suddenness of his passing. The lobby displayed pictures contributed by Vasyl Didyk (the maestro had planned to visit his exhibit but never did). During the concert the artist presented one of his works, The Path to the Stars, to the singer’s widow Svitlana. After that the floor was taken by Andriy Zlotnyk, director of the festival Slavic Bazaar. He spoke about numerous conversations with him, destinies of Ukrainian music, and Anatoly Solovyanenko’s plans for the festival not destined to be carried out.
The concert started with Mykhailo Stepanenko’s In Memoriam of Solovyanenko performed by People’s Artist of Ukraine Bohdan Kotorovych (violin), accompanied by the author. The first part was dedicated to operatic music occupying the foremost place in the late singer’s creative work. Among the performers were National Opera soloists Svitlana Dobronravova, Olha Mykytenko, and Volodymyr Hryshko (unfortunately a rare guest to Kyiv). Among the guest stars was Tamara Lahunova, soloist with Donetsk Opera (negotiations are underway to name the company after Anatoly Solovyanenko).
The second part was dedicated to folk music, something the singer loved so much, arias and folk songs performed by National Opera soloist Mariya Stefiuk (she and Solovyanenko often appeared in duets). And the appearance on stage of Andriy Shkurhan, People’s Artist of Ukraine, currently with the Polish National Opera, was a real gift to the audience. Prof. Kostiantyn Shasha, Meritorious Artist of Ukraine (Kharkiv), performed, among others, the Neapolitan song “Don’t Cry,” reminding that 36 years ago Italians were conquered by Solovyanenko’s Neapolitan songs and gave him the first prize. In fact, Italy is planning a Solovyanenko festival for the next fall, compared to Ukraine’s bureaucrats in charge of culture that can only hand out so-called diplomas of honor. Thank God, bureaucratic awards do not make performing stars truly loved by this nation. But Anatoly Solovyanenko’s gift to his nation will never be forgotten.