Ukrainian record

John Roach

запорожець за дунаєм

опера а НА З дії

Семен артемовський

This record was purchased in 1992 from a bookstore at 111 East 7th Street in the East Village. I lived on the 4th floor of the building, and the store was on the ground floor. The neighborhood had a large Ukrainian population at the time. The undated LP, and many other crumbling relics I found in the store, were alluring not only for their evocation of the old world, but because they seemed to characterize the aging population of Ukrainians that I would see lounging at their windowsills high above the street. Occasionally I would pick through bundles of yellowing ephemera left out on the curb: mysterious pamphlets full of grainy portraits and messages I could not decode, but that I imagined to be the Ukrainian political journals of yesteryear. Of course, these discarded bundles were prophetic; my aging Ukrainian neighbors would inevitably be replaced by a very different group of people — and I was one of those people.

The patina of scratches and hiss, the haggard yellowing cover, the booming male voices, the outbursts of song, all drop me into a murky play that reminds me that, despite my awareness as an educator that this object has a cultural and historical context that would aid in my understanding, there can be a palpable pleasure in not knowing.

I sent the image of this record sleeve to my cousin in Vladivostok on the eastern coast of Russia in the hopes that he could give me a better translation that the obviously awkward results of my Google Translation.

Hi John!

That’s pretty funny – “Zaparozhets za Dunaem” is one of the few Ukrainian language operas, and the only one I’ve seen. A “Zaparozhets” is a Cossack from the famous Cossack stronghold Zaporozhe. Tsarina Catherine (I think) for some reason went to war with the independent Cossacks, and they fled Zaporozhe for Ottoman territory beyond the Danube River (what is now Romania). The title means “A Zaparozhe Cossack beyond the Danube” or maybe just “A Cossack beyond the Danube”.

The rest says “An opera in 3 parts” and “Semyon Artyomovsky”, who is the composer of the opera. The text is in Ukrainian.

Hope this helps!


— John Roach, Artist, Assistant Professor of Fine Art, Director, Parsons First Year