Requiem for Anna Politkovskaya, with puppetry, at Fisher Center

(Photo by Juulia Niiniranta)

When journalists die in action, it typically happens when they’re embedded in a military unit or otherwise covering the frontlines of a war zone. A few find that the most dangerous place to be is their own country. When Ukrainian writer/activist Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya was assassinated by contract hitmen in 2006, her body was found in the elevator of her Moscow housing complex. It happened on Vladimir Putin’s birthday, and some observers of the Russian political scene believe that someone was sending him a present.

Politkovskaya’s dogged coverage of the Second Chechen War (1999-2005), particularly her exposés of corruption and human rights abuses, won her a long list of international journalism awards along with some powerful enemies in the Russian government and military. By the time of her death she had already survived two poisonings, a mock execution, detentions and beatings, rape and death threats and frequent official interrogations. None of the danger deterred her in her work.

Now, Alexander Bakshi, a Georgian composer living in Moscow, has written an oratorio to commemorate her heroism, titled Requiem for Anna Politkovskaya. It has been transformed into a puppet opera by Amy Trompetter, founder of the Rosendale-based Redwing Blackbird Theater. The hybrid work will be unveiled this weekend at the Luma Theater in the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, featuring musicians and singers from the Bard College Conservatory of Music and undergraduate performers.

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Requiem for Anna Politkovskaya will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, May 18 to 20, with 2 p.m. matinées on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost $15; admission is free for the Bard community with ID. To purchase, visit https://bit.ly/2KoHqgG.

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