Arts, Culture & Media

Curtain still rises for opera in a battle-scarred Ukrainian city

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Amid the war in the eastern part of Ukraine, the Donetsk Opera Theatre has kept its doors open. The cast and crew want "the show to go on." 

Credit:

Maxim Shemetov/Reuters 

On the horizon, shelling and the signs of a humanitarian catastrophe. But at the Donetsk Opera House, the curtain still rises each weekend.

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"They're doing the best they can," says The Guardian's Shaun Walker, describing the more than 300 people working at the majestic 74-year-old theater in the eastern Ukraine city once known more for coal mines and steel mills. "And for the audience, it's a sort of a rare way to get some light relief to see something beautiful and to forget for a few hours what's going on all around them." 

Some of the cast and crew have had to leave the war-battered city, but those who remained still manage to draw in audiences for their latest production of Die Fledermaus composed by Johann Strauss II.   

Among the opera-goers Walker saw at one performance: a handful of fighters accompanied by women dressed in evening gowns and heels.

The nearly 1,000-seat theater was a symbol of the city's wealth, as was the terminal at the Donetsk Sergei Prokofiev International Airport, built in 2012 and now in ruins.