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Opera-Myth «Ukraine – Terra Incognita»

Opera-Myth «Ukraine – Terra Incognita» combines the ancient Ukrainian songs, symphonic music, free jazz, video art and innovative costumes.

Ritual, Cossack and Chumak songs, lullabies and love songs are dating back to hundreds years ago. They germinate in a refined unusual form of a modern opera.

The opera is dedicated to the singer and warrior Wassyl Slipak. 

"Ukraine – Terra Incognita" is a story of a Warrior who is able to hold the Iron Heart and protect Home, Family, and Love. It's a simple plot but worthy hundreds of operas. This land, Terra Incognita, gave us the Steppe where each generation could test itself, to find and give a chance to the next one…


Opera-Myth National Premiere have been on October, 14 (Defenders’ Day) in Lviv Opera House.

The project is supported by Ukrainian Culture Fundation.



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Opera Authors

The author of the idea is director and singer Ulyana Horbachevska. The opera music is composed by Uliana Horbahevska in result of many years of her archaic singing studies and by composer Maria Olijnyk upon her academic research.

Together with Uliana Horbachevska the ensemble include Mykola Bereza (director at the Les Kurbas Theater and the key role in the film "Red"), Yaroslav Fedorchuk (actor in the films "Gate", "Our Cats"), Marko Svizhinskyi (actor at the Les Kurbas theatre), Denys Ivaniv (singer, actor, member of the group "Pike-Fish"), Sofia Leshyshak (singer of the band "YagOdy", actress of the Lesia Ukrainka Theater), Andriana-Yaroslava Sajenko (singer, musician), Kateryna Smirnova (freelance artist), Olha Balandiukh (singer Olvia, artist), Serhiy Badiuk (member of the band "Chornomorets", actor in the film "Black Crow").  

The Ukrainian Festival Orchestra under the direction of Taras Demko and Ivan Ostapovych will perform in the opera.

Taras Verhun will conduct.

Known Ukrainian jazzmen Ihor Hnydyn (drummer and percussionist) and Mykhailo Balog (saxophonist) together with the prominent Polish multi instrumentalist Ryszard Liatecki will improvise.

Video art is created by VJ group CUBE together with the stage designer and project artist Volodymyr Oleshchuk.

The costumes are created by the famous designer Marta Wachholz.

Modern choreography made by Artem Shoshyn.

The project management team is formed through cooperation of the youth organization YMCA-Lviv (Oleksandra Sorokopud – project manager, Yurko Vovkohon – PR manager and veteran, Iryna Vuitsyk – international communicator, Natalia Zakharkiv – financial manager) with the Wassyl Slipak Foundation (headed by Orest Slipak).

Music researcher Lesia Olijnyk – external consultant.

The opera "Ukraine - Terra Incognita" is a story in five myths that grow through the time.

Director Uliana Horbachevska:

“I have sung hundreds of songs over the years. Some forced me to return and survive them again and again. They seem to want to manifest and speak out the certain topics through which generations of people on this earth think, feel and dream. For example, "Myth of the Ancestry" - ritual female songs. They set the rhythm of generations, the repeating cycle of the year and life. "Myth of Home" lullabies, fairy tales, jokes, the first sounds-utterances, the first steps, "preface of life"… "Myth of Love"​​lyrical, dramatic, tender, explosive, like love itself in all its contrasting manifestations. "Myth of the Steppe" Cossack and Chumak songs filled with a sense of freedom. "The Myth of the Iron Heart" is a statement of courage, resilience and strength: "I am not afraid of the heat but I do not want the rain. I'm standing in a strange meadow and I am planning to prosper”.


For the team, the project is more than just staging the opera. It is the transmission of meanings, thoughts and experiences. This feeling is identical to the state of a person who seeks out to sing something very important: first of all, about oneself on this earth and own responsibility between the past and future generations.


What is special?

  • The Opera-Myth "Ukraine - Terra Incognita" is created around archaic Ukrainian songs while preserving its traditional foundation - melody, harmony, rhythm and the principle of authentic singing style. Here, the folk singing completely replaces the academic manner of sound delivery in vocal parts.
  • The opera combines three different types of improvisation: traditional song (wailing), European free jazz and orchestral.
  • Performers of "Ukraine - Terra Incognita" are singers who master the techniques of archaic singing and at the same time act as performers on the stage.
  • Opera scenography includes costumes-transformers which at certain moments become part of the scenery, as well as video art which sometimes visualize the characters-meanings: Steppe, Home, Iron Heart…

Dedication to Wassyl Slipak


The opera "Ukraine - Terra Incognita" is dedicated to Wassyl Slipak, an artist who left his world career to defend his land and the opportunity to freely create for others. 

“The best way to thank a person is to continue the cause he lived for. We want the memory of Wassyl not to drown into the pathetic speeches and tears. That's why we make an exquisite modern music project. We make it so that Wassyl would have liked it”, - the project team explains the decision to dedicate the opera to Wassyl Slipak.



Project preparation

The project idea matured for few years. It initiated from the idea to bring the traditional Ukrainian song (polyphony, first of all) to the world opera stage - to the idea of re-thinking these songs and the innovative ways to combine it with modern art.   

In 2020, thanks to hundreds of donators the project raised the starting amount at the crowdfunding platform Big.Idea. Supported by the Ukrainian Culture Fundation and the International Renaissance Foundation, the opera was produced, staged and recorded on video.

In 2021 the National Premiere of "Ukraine - Terra Incognita" have took place at the Lviv Opera.

In the coming years, the opera myth plans to be staged in other cities of Ukraine and abroad. In particular, it is important for the project team to stage the opera in Paris, where Wassyl Slipak sang and lived for almost 20 years.