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date: 19 October 2019

Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District [Ledi Makbet Mtsenskogo uyezda]locked

  • Laurel Fay

Extract

[Ledi Makbet Mtsenskogo uyezda]

Opera in four acts, op.29, by Dmitry Shostakovich to a libretto by the composer and Alexander Preys, after the short story by Nikolay Leskov; Leningrad, Malïy Opernïy Teatr, 22 January 1934 (revised as Katerina Izmaylova; Moscow, Stanislavsky–Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre, 8 January 1963).

Shostakovich began the composition of his second opera in autumn 1930, as his first opera, The Nose, was completing its short run at the Malïy Theatre, Leningrad. Turning once again to 19th-century Russian literature for a subject, he chose Leskov’s tale of the passion, greed and brutality of a provincial merchant’s wife. The composer and his co-librettist Alexander Preys made small but significant alterations to Leskov’s story, all designed to humanize the central character of Katerina, to find justification for her crimes and make her a positive, sympathetic figure. Shostakovich referred to his opera as a ‘tragedy-satire’; his chief technique in winning the spectator’s sympathy for his heroine was by caricaturing those around her with excessively grotesque and parodistic music. With the conspicuous exception of the convicts in the final act, Katerina is the only character in the opera treated to music of genuine lyrical feeling....

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