The best finally came: After major drama director Simone Kermes sang her way into audience hearts with the global anti-war anthem “Lily Marilyn,” two lovable men spoke via video message. Those who spoke to the audience at the AIDS Foundation’s 10th Opera Bonn were none other than Bjorn Olpheus and ABBA’s Benny Anderson.
Ukraine writes poem “Ode to Freedom”
They are happy and proud that ABBA’s “Anthem of Freedom” can be heard in Bonn. “Because what the brave Ukrainian people are going through right now is writing a ‘Ode to Freedom’,” the Swedes say. After those words, the party members sang this poem out, as did the audience – at least those who didn’t catch their breath much… Possibly far from Boone, because DW broadcast the event worldwide.
With a three-hour marathon full of strong emotions, the Bonn Opera Party is back after a two-year Corona break, which has been tied to a digital event in 2020, more vibrant and cool than ever in analog, but far from the peaceful world. It also sent the right signals in light of Putin’s aggressive war on Ukraine.
The opera party’s slogan, the red ribbon of HIV Solidarity, has been changed for the first time in the history of the fight against AIDS: “The red ribbon now shows the Ukrainian national colors blue and yellow at one end.
This time with blue and yellow accents: the solidarity ribbon from the AIDS concert in Bonn
In doing so, we are taking a stand against war and for freedom and self-determination. The fact that so many artists are working with us to achieve this goal fills us with great joy,” the event’s initiators, Helmut Andreas Hartwig and Arndt Hartwig, told DW.
Star Dancing on the Rhine
The famous artist and curator Johannes B. Orchestra conductor Jacques Lacombe, and his band themselves on stage. The sure-to-success recipe – a wonderful mixture of melodies, duets and quartets known from more than 200 years of opera history, sung by soloists from the largest theaters in the world – has once again shown its influence. Great cinema! Or better: the great opera!, so the opinion is unanimous.
For which a generous fee was also paid: 350,000 euros were collected on the evening of the celebration. Part of the proceeds will support medical care for HIV-infected refugees from Ukraine. The rest goes to partners who have proven successful in the fight against AIDS in the areas of research, education and treatment. Because “in addition to the terrible events of the war, we do not forget the great interest in the Bonn opera: the call to protect against HIV and AIDS.” Both are still incurable, according to Arendt Hartwig.
Exciting feelings – behind the stage too
When big things happen on stage, the backstage confrontations are even more exciting: Sopranos star Simone Kermes shared her wardrobe with fellow young Russian Nadezhda Kariyazina. Kermes just sang “Lily Marilyn” – and gave it all to her “Girl in the Lantern,” the ambassador for peace through generations and war. During World War II, tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides of the front listened to the song of the girl waiting for her beloved. But the war tore the couple apart.
“This song has been sung all over the world – in Moscow, New York, Paris, Mexico and Germany. People all over the world know this song because it is a song for peace!” Simon Kermes says. But she also “never believed this song would become relevant so quickly.”
While we are talking to Simone Kermes, Nadezhda Kariyazina is talking with her relatives. “I am from Moscow, but a significant part of my family lives in Ukraine, especially in Charkiv,” says the young singer, who is currently a soloist at the Basel Opera. “This war is not only on the land, but also in the souls of the people, in the midst of families.”
Simon Kermes and Nadezhda Kariyazina agree: “With our voice, our art, we have only one but effective weapon. And it must be used in full,” says Nadezhda, whose first name means “hope” in Ukrainian and Russian. “If there is one thing that connects everyone in this world and creates peace, it is music,” Simone Kermes firmly agrees.