Three Sisters, Opera by P. Eötvös
The Hungarian, Péter Eötvös, is one of the most significant composers of his generation. Born in 1944, he is a prolific multi-award winning writer of works for voice, orchestra and ensembles. Tri Sestri began its life as a commission from the Opéra National de Lyon, received its premiere there on 13 March 1998 and, after having been performed in many of Europe's most prestigious opera houses, now comes to the stage of the Vienna State Opera. Tri Sestri has won both France's Prix Claude-Rostand and its Grand Prix de la Critique.
Inspired by Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, the relationship between the narrative of the Russian master’s play and Tri Sestri is largely incidental. Eötvös is more interested in exploring mood than story and, in particular, the peculiar sense of ennui that is felt when one century ends and another begins; the way in which excitement gives way to disappointment when one realises that everything remains the same.
Rather than being organised in acts and scenes, Eötvös’ opera is divided into three sequences, each of which sees the world from the various perspectives of three of the play’s characters - Irina, Masha and Andrey - presenting to the audience the consequences of a decision that each of them has to make regarding the objects of their love and affection. Personal choice seems to hold little sway over fate, leaving the protagonists to ponder the absurdity of life’s design.
Focusing on emotion rather than drama, Eötvös’ and Klaus Henneberg deliberately wrote the libretto in Russian to create a work containing some of the most haunting music ever written, inseparable from the specific and beautiful sonority of the Russian language.