‘Keto and Kote’: Vulnerable Children Discover the Magic of the Opera

Last weekend, the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater welcomed this season’s ‘Keto and Kote,’ the famous Georgian Opera by Victor Dolidze. On Saturday, they celebrated International Children's Day with a very special event for children with complicated social backgrounds or disabilities, hosting around 500 children from various Georgian regions through theater Social-Cognitive programs. Together with the staff of the Opera and Ballet Theater, members of the Youth Club LATAVRA actively participate in organizing the event. The club aims at encouraging the interest of young people towards the arts, at the same time developing their sense of civic responsibility.

“The social-cognitive program is one of the priorities of the theater,” says Badri Maisuradze, Artistic Director of the Theater. “The program is oriented on the future generations and is aimed at promoting interest in the classical arts among the younger generation. Of course, the theater is not an educational organization and we do not insist on this, but we want to make our activity interesting for any member of society and this is our main message – The theater serves and exists for society.”

‘Keto and Kote’ was definitely a great choice of opera for these children. This Georgian piece of art has been one of the most famous and appreciated comic operas since its premier in 1919. From the beginning to the end, the public had no time to be bored. The opera is full of action, twists, turns and absurdities. The comic is based on the grotesque, with vast exaggerations of the characters and situations. The actors were excellent: very lively, relating to the public, making the audience feel like they were entirely part of the show.

The performance featured soloists, the choir and orchestra of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater and National Ballet Company Sukhishvilebi. The remainder of the team included conductor Revaz Takidze, director Ioane (Vano) Khutsishvili, set, costume and lighting designer Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili, and chief choreographer, Iliko Sukhishvili.

After the special Saturday show for children, GEORGIA TODAY went to speak to the team behind the project.

Rusudan Matsaberidze, Project Manager (Head of the International Relations and Development Department of the theatre), explained how special the day had been. “The theater welcomed socially vulnerable people, Internally Displaced People and children with disabilities. All of them greatly appreciated the show and left the Opera with happy and enthusiastic faces. The main goal of the project was met, which gives a great motivation for further such projects.”

“Art and culture can shape young people,” Amiran Kristesiashvili, Deputy State Representative of Shida Kartli, told us. “This kind of project is interesting and original for youth. I’m more than ready to build further collaboration and I live in hope that each child who has been displaced will one day soon be able to go back to their homes.”

“On June 1, to celebrate International Children’s Day, 23 beneficiaries of alternative care of the SOS Children’s Villages Georgia Program were given the chance to see ‘Keto and Kote’ for the first time,” Mariam Akhvlediani, Youth Care Specialist of SOS Children's Villages Georgia, told us. “Rusudan Matsaberidze organized the day, a lady who has been actively collaborating with the administration of the Children’s Villages. The kids were excited by the theatrical, as well as visual sides of the play and they enjoyed listening to the arias from prominent Georgian film.

Such activities positively reflect on the emotional and social development of our beneficiaries, contributing a lot to raising their awareness of this significant field of art and positively impacting on the formation of their classical taste.

Maia Chitaishvili, head of Kojori Disabled Children’s Home told us of her gratitude to the Georgian National Opera Theater and the Head of the project Rusudan Matsaberidze.

“The children were very happy after the performance,” she said. “I would also like to thank them for such organization, cooperation and especial attention. We have been to the opera for the first time and are looking forward to further collaboration.”

All participants gained a lot from the show, and the partner organizations were very enthusiastic about organizing such projects again in future. It seems like the magic of ‘Keto and Kote’ worked for everyone last weekend!

By Gabrielle Colchen

06 June 2019 18:17