An Ode to Love and Longing

Britain’s Opera Circus tours with ‘Differences in Demolition,’ trying to overcome the scars of war in Bosnian-Herzegovina

The spilt tears run down the windows that cover my heart,
Tonight I will play without worrying,
Tonight I heal my wounds singing songs, my brother,
Why do we have to hate each other because somebody wants it?

A montage of five Opera Circus singers | Photo: Robert Golden

These struggles and successes, eloquently captured here by rapper Haris Alic, are still part of daily life in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a country in the process of healing and rebuilding after the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. As such, they are a fitting introduction to the chamber opera Differences in Demolition, by British composer Nigel Osborne with a libretto by the Bosnian poet Goran Simic, which will be presented in a rare benefit concert in Vienna on Dec. 13.

An ode to love, longing, violence and reconciliation, this Sevdah Opera is part of an EU-coordinated Partnership Project, a cooperation between groups in the UK, the Netherlands, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and a still more impressive list of sponsors and supporters, including the Speaker of the Austrian Parliament, the British Council, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Musicians without Borders, as well as many others. The performance will benefit NGOs in Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially youth projects in Srebrenica.

Specially composed for the project, Differences in Demolition had its premiere in 2007 in Mostar. It has since toured in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the UK and is being performed here by the “Opera Circus,” a UK-based company that provides educational programs using the creative arts, especially music, for disadvantaged children in both the UK and the Balkans.

It will also be performed Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, in Srebrenica, the first opera ever held there. In July 1995, Srebrenica was the site of the largest mass murder in Europe since WWII, the scene of a shocking “ethnic cleansing” in which more than 8,000 men and boys were killed.

Srebrenica now has a Children’s Music Theatre, which has been open for the last five years. It gives Bosnian and Serb children the chance to be creative side by side, an important lesson in tolerance and a means for emotional growth. In another project, twenty young people of Srebrenica will visit Vienna in December, a cultural holiday that will include a tour of the Museum of Modern Art and a performance of the Lipizzaners. Such cultural activities are intended to help them rebuild their community.

Sevdah, the folk music of Bosnia, is a form of melancholy song. The word derives from Arabic and Turkish and means love or longing. Composer Osborne has caught its expressiveness in this work, an opera that promises to be unique and memorable.


The performance on Dec. 13 will take place in the Hofburg, with a reception afterwards at the British Embassy Residence. Tickets for the benefit are € 85.
For tickets:
 (01) 716 13 2299

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