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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0379  Friday, 8 February 2002

[1]     From:   Mark Harris <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Feb 2002 10:03:12 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0372 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Feb 2002 00:01:19 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0372 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mark Harris <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Feb 2002 10:03:12 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0372 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0372 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

Nancy wrote,

> The music is simply magnificent, more than makes up
> for the
> implausibilities and gaps in the story.

Is it ever!  The greatest experience I have ever had in an opera house
was a performance of Shostakovich's original version of Lady Macbeth of
the Mtsensk District at the San Francisco Opera in the mid-Eighties.
The music is unbelievably thrilling, most definitely including the
"pornographic" accompaniment to one of the most explicit scenes in all
of opera (dramatized in San Francisco using throbbing shadows behind a
scrim).  By the time Shostakovich got to using a trombone glissando to
indicate....well, detumescence, the audience was simply going wild.

Mark Harris

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 8 Feb 2002 00:01:19 -0000
Subject: 13.0372 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0372 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

It's not surprising that Nancy Charlton felt Shostakovich's opera "Lady
Macbeth of the Mtensk District" strayed away from its "source material",
if she thought that this material was a little-known tragedy called
"Macbeth", by William Shakespeare. In fact, the opera has nothing
whatsoever to do with this 17th C curiosity, and is based upon a short
story by Nikolai Leskov (1831-1895), with which it shares a title. It's
extraordinary that the "programme notes" to which Ms. Charlton refers
failed to mention all this.

I am puzzled that someone should come away from the opera feeling that
Shostakovich had tried (but failed) to elicit sympathy for his
heroine...  Still, Ms. Charlton found the music to be "simply
magnificent", a judgement which can only please those of us on the list
who regard Shostakovich as something like a divine wonder. If you liked
that, check out "The Nose".  Different, somewhat wacky, but shot through
with the same bitter, ironic humour...

m

PS - Stalin actually wrote the review of this opera in Pravda, which was
run under the title "Chaos Instead of Music". He accused it of being
"formalist" and "bourgeois". Weird...

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