330 years have passed this year since Ivan Mazepa was elected as Hetman of Ukraine. Along with his election, more than interesting, tragic, and, at the same time, signifi cant period in the history of Ukraine began. In fact, among all Ukrainian hetmans, Mazepa held the mace for the longest time – 22 years.
During his reign in Ukraine, the long period of a debilitating fratricidal war that began after the death of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, and which entered Ukrainian historiography entitled «Ruin», was terminated. Until the very beginning of another war, the Northern one, Ukraine was overliving a truly golden age under the reign of the Prince-Hetman Mazepa. During this time, many great temples and fortifi cations were built, and the Hetman’s Courtyard in Baturyn could argue by its refi nement and splendor with the courtyard of the Polish king and Russian tsar.
Hetman and Cossack gentry that had already risen to the same level as the aristocracy at that time, invested considerable funds not only in the construction of churches, monasteries and fortresses, but also in the development of science and education. It was during the Mazepa times when Kyiv Сollegiums became the Academy. Another center of Ukrainian scholarship also developed actively – Chernihiv Collegiums, was cared of by Prince-Hetman Mazepa as well.
At the foreign policy front, led by Mazepa, there was an attempt to spread Hetman’s power to the Right-Bank Ukraine and support the great Ukrainian rebellion against Poland. Only the intervention of Peter the Great, who wanted to have Poland as an ally against Sweden, made it impossible to unite all Ukrainian lands under the authority of Prince-Hetman.
Another Mazepa’s unsuccessful attempt to bring Ukraine out of power of Russian tsar is much more known than the cultural, educationaland patristic (or, as it was said in the Hetmanate, donor’s) activity. Also, it is little known in modern Ukraine that Mazepa became the hero of many works of European imaginative literature already in the nineteenth century. In particular, George Byron and Victor Hugo dedicated their works to Ukrainian hetman.
That is why it is completely natural that in Ukraine, which has fi nally and forever chosen the European vector of development, the 330th anniversary of the election of Mazepa as Hetman will be celebrated at the national level. Among the festive occasions there is one which should be noted – the opening of Mazepa monument in the village of Kolomak in Kharkiv Oblast. It was in this settlement on July 28, 1687 where Hetman’s power was passed into the hands of Hetman Mazepa. Thus, the choice of Kharkiv area to establish a monument to the famous creator of Ukrainian statehood is not accidental. Concurrently with inauguration of Mazepa’s memorial, “Mazepa” operatic performance will take place.
By the way, the installation of the monument itself and the production of the operatic performance, have certain prehistory.
In September 2016, Kolomak District State Administration announced a competition for the best project of the monument, thanks to which famous Kharkiv sculptor Seifadin Gurbanov began to create a new masterpiece – a monument to the famous Hetman Ivan Mazepa.
Seifadin Gurbanov is the author of many monuments to prominent fi gures of Ukrainian culture, in particular to Hrygorii Skovoroda and Taras Shevchenko.
– Monuments to Skovoroda and Shevchenko are among the most valuable in my creative work – the artist admits.
The native of the distant Nakhichevan Seifadin Gurbanov, in his own words, feels like a Ukrainian patriot and believes that monumental propaganda is one of the most eff ective means of promoting Ukrainian national idea, fi rst of all, in the East of our country. He noted that the assistance of Kharkiv patriots-entrepreneurs made installation of the monument and celebration in Kharkiv on the occasion of the glorious 330th anniversary possible. Kharkiv public fi gure Taras Sitenko said:
– We started planning a arge-scale patriotic celebration on the occasion of Mazepa’s accession to the Hetman’s throne a few years ago … We invited representatives of the diaspora and representatives of political circles both from Ukrainians from Europe to join, but unfortunately, hardly anybody supported us. But despite all the hardships, we have done a very big deal. It is not as much about anything new as about the restoration of our Ukrainian history, our traditions…. There will not only be the opening of the monument this year, but also a large street theatrical performance and premiere of the performance in the opera house.
The theatre director of the Kharkiv National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet, Arsen Kaloian, says:
– I have made minor changes to Tchaikovsky’s opera. The Libretto, written on the basis of the poem of Aleksander Pushkin «Poltava», is not historically reliable and reflects the imperial chauvinistic stereotypes of Hetman Mazepa’s personality, and therefore we have found an alternative libretto, which Ukrainian emigrants wrote in Canada in the 1920s. One of the authors of this libretto was a leader of the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic and the initiator of the unification of two parts of Ukraine in 1918, Longin Tsehelskyi…
Some changes were also made in the production of the opera, that Tchaikovsky wrote. The fi nal scene, where Peter the Great and the Russian Empire are sublimed, was replaced – in this part the chorus will perform folk, or, more precisely, the ancient Cossack song «Oh, Black Tillage Is Ploughed».
– This is one of Stepan Bandera’s favorite songs … In fact, it was forbidden to perform this song in Soviet times, – says the director.
The choir, according to the director’s plan, must present not only the Ukrainian military men of hetman’s times, but also all those who defended Ukraine with weapon in their hands – from haydamaks to ATO participants. Getting the text of the libretto became possible due to support of Ukrainian diaspora from Canada and the leaders of the theater «Arabesque» Svetlana Oleshko and Mykhailo Barbara. The text did not exist in electronic form, but it was managed to be photographed and sent to Kharkiv during a week. Igor Tuluzov, who actively participated in the new recitation of the classical work, notes:
– Pushkin’s text does not correspond to what we import in this celebration … we had to ask our diaspora for help… We have been preparing for the 330th anniversary since June of last year …Therefore we managed it all…
As we can see, Ukrainian renascence confi dently and victoriously strides around Sloboda Ukraine. The area, which was somehow considered to be pro-Russian, appears to be able to argue with Galicia for the honorable title of the «Ukrainian Piedmont», and such a return of the Cossack land to its origins cannot but regale every Ukrainian heart…