The Rose of Turaida, an opera by Zigmars Liepiņš and with the libretto by Kaspars Dimiters, is a musically and theatrically revised version of the opera No Rozes un asinīm (Rose and Blood). It’s a story about the events of 1620, during which the protagonists continue to live out their passions – a story that moved conductor Mārtiņš Ozoliņš and director Ināra Slucka to portray this melodious drama as a timeless legend about Maija’s love and loyalty.
Love is stronger than death,
Love is stronger than life.
Life balances on a wire,
And you balance on the wire of death.
If I can, with my final breath,
I will bloom with the Rose.
Eternity will unite us…
Both soldiers and civilians have fallen in a battle not far from Turaida Castle. A wise woman known as the Mage arrives to the battlefield to save a girl whose parents were killed in the battle. A marauder by the name of Brukūzītis takes advantage of the situation to steal the weapon the girl’s deceased father is holding. The castle bookkeeper, Greif, also arrives to the battlefield. He believes these battles have robbed life of its meaning. Greif takes the orphan girl from the Mage and decides to raiser her himself. In the month of May she is christened and given the name ‘May’; the girl grows up to be a beautiful young woman. One day, at a celebration, she witnesses Brukūzītis being ridiculed. In an attempt to catch May’s eye, Jakubowsky, a deserter from the Polish Army, steps in to defend Brukūzītis. Greif takes notice of Jakubowsky’s interest in May; as a result, he decides to publicly announce that he intends for his adopted daughter to marry the castle gardener, Victor. But Jakubowsky is determined to fight for May. Meanwhile, Brukūzītis dreams of settling down with Madaļa, believing that the young woman could help him overcome his drinking problem. In turn, Madaļa's friend Lūzma can’t forget her brief romance with Jakubowsky. In the hopes that Jakubowsky will be grateful to her, Lūzma informs him where May goes at night to meet with her fiancé. May tries to make sense of her feelings; she admits to her father that she still thinks about Jakubowsky. Greif gives May a kiss – and understands that the motive behind his actions has not been pure. The prayers he recites to the higher powers become a dialogue with his own conscience. Victor struggles with the realisation that he is not a fighter by nature; May assures him that she loves him for his kind-heartedness. Victor tells her they should travel to Germany after their wedding, and leaves, confused about his bride-to-be’s aloofness. He has no idea that Jakubowsky plans to take advantage of May’s being alone to reveal his feelings to her. May reminds Jakubowsky that love cannot be gained by force.
May prays and gives thanks to the Virgin Mary for watching over her. Greif enters and tells of his dream about a rose; in the dream the rose is crowned, and the crown turns blood red. The Mage goes to see the lovesick Jakubowsky to offer him her help. Jakubowsky is ready to do whatever it takes to win over May. Brukūzītis gives May’s father’s weapon to Victor, so that Victor can hold off Jakubowsky. The two men go at each other, and Victor injures Jakubowsky. Only May’s intervention keeps the fight from escalating.
With the help of his servant, Skudritz, Jakubowsky is able to once more meet with the Mage; he demands she put a spell on May. The Mage does not hide the fact that such things are not within her power – and that things will turn out the way they were meant to. Knowing that Greif will do everything in his power to protect his daughter, Skudritz decides to warn Greif and Victor of the danger May is in. Skudritz also realises that, if Jakubowsky is arrested, it will pave the way for himself to court Lūzma, who still entertains hopes of reuniting with her former lover. Brukūzītis asks Madaļa to marry him, and she accepts. Lūzma, however, refuses to be with the traitorous Skudritz. She hurries to find May, who is sure to help keep Jakubowsky from being arrested.
May prays to the Virgin Mary to help those wracked by their intense emotions, and to give her strength as well. She receives an unmistakable sign that her prayers have been heard. Greif calls May in to try on her wedding gown. Lūzma interrupts them when she rushes in to ask for help. The Mage senses that May is approaching the defining moment in her life’s path; her destiny is about to be fulfilled. Lūzma urges Jakubowsky to flee because the search for him is set to begin at daybreak. But the only thing Jakubowsky can think of is his chance to see May. He asks Lūzma to stall Victor so he can get to May.
That evening, it takes May a few moments to realise that the person waiting for her in the shadows is not her fiancé. May asks Jakubowsky to not read into or misunderstand her reasons for helping him. But when she senses he won’t give up so easily, she decides to promise him her wedding veil. She tries to convince Jakubowsky that the veil will protect whoever wears it. She wraps the veil around her neck, and readies herself for the ultimate test: it’s the only way she can be true to her feelings and simultaneously keep her promise to her fiancé. Only afterward does Jakubowsky understand how strong May’s love had been. With a desperate hope that death can unite what life cannot, Jakubowsky takes his own life to continue his search for his Rose.