The libretto of the “Silent Steppe Cantata” incorporates several legendary stories represented in three distinct sections: an ancient tale of mythological proportions, depicting the people of Central Asia as originating from the sun; how they prevailed despite horrific and volatile episodes in their history; and an imagined future that looks forward to a peaceful, developed region while retaining the pursuit of honor within the area’s cultural, anthropological and ethnographic context.
The texts used in the libretto are drawn from several Russian and Kazakh writers, including the most important living Kazakh poet, Olzhas Suleimenov.
Central Asian historical epics drive the first section, depicting the creation of the musical instruments such as the dombra; the nomadic way of life; the absence of written language; and shamanistic adherence to ‘tengrism’,
In the early half of the twentieth century, the people of Central Asia were subjected to extreme suffering and devastation. Documenting the genocidal massacre of nearly half of the population during the Stalinist agricultural reforms, this second part of the cantata will reflect upon this tragic period, which still remains largely unacknowledged.
Roar of the Century
The cantata’s third section forms an open-ended portrait of a now renewed Kazakhstan, with its unusually rich natural resources, prevailing through hardship and endless difficulties with a spiritual unity inherent in the Kazakh ancient traditions.