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The Show Must Go On: Odesa’s Opera House Provides Respite From The War

At Odesa’s National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the sound of applause fills the air in the auditorium as the curtain rises on the stage.

In the audience sit dozens of Ukrainian theatre lovers. They have been battling electricity and water shortages in the maritime capital for several days.

Officials estimate that approximately 50% of Ukraine’s energy facilities have been damaged in recent strikes.

Despite the low temperatures, residents in Odesa have not been leaving in their droves. Instead, they have been trying to rebuild their lives, and go about their days as normally as possible with the help of portable generators.

Odesa’s opera and ballet theatre reopened in June. The opera house has had to deal with several skirmishes and just half the staff are now working. However, the performers are still determined to put on a good show.

“On stage, I only think about how I am dancing, about the character… war thoughts don’t interfere,” said Katerina Bartosh, a principal ballerina.

 “Several times during performances, there were air raids and rockets exploded over the roof of the theatre. It was very scary… the artists got worried… but after the end of the air raid the performance continued,” said Harry Sevoyan, the acting artistic director at the theatre.

The dancers, musicians and technicians who stayed behind feel like their passion has become their most powerful weapon.

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