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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and this 'n that
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0430  Thursday, 14 February 2002

From:           Nancy Charlton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Feb 2002 00:25:41 -0800
Subject:        Re: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and this 'n that

When I went to GMN today I found they had most obligingly posted a
webcast of this opera. Audio only, alas, and they don't seem to mention
the date of the performance. It was at the Barbican, done by the Kirov
theatre. The URL: http://classicalplus.gmn.com/  Click on the Webcasts
tab, and Lady Macb is second from the top. It will be available through
the 15th. It is long, about 145 minutes, but each of the four acts is on
a separate track. There is good material about the opera and about the
Kirov on the site, including a detailed synopsis of the story. If you
understand Russian, the clear diction will be a delight, but if you
don't you'll have to be content with the superb music.

Another webcast has the Kirov conductor, Valery Gergiev, leading the
Philharmonia Orchestra in Berlioz' "dramatic symphony" Romeo and
Juliet.  Seems that Berlioz was intrigued by Shakespeare, went night
after night to hear a performance in Paris in French, and fell in love
with Ann Smithson, the Juliet of this performance. This translated into
a weird and wonderful hybrid of symphony and oratorio.

A few days ago Martin Steward wrote,

>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.

Mea culpa. I should not have used the term "source" in the sense that,
say, Holinshed is the source of the history plays. I don't really know a
term, however, for a work that serves as a theme so slight that it
barely more than an allusion. The Leskov story is the source of this
opera in the proper sense of the term.  Since there is so much interest
on this list in Shakespearean outcroppings in popular culture, I thought
it might be interesting as a note on how such as use--or misuse--might
pop up in a very different milieu.

It was, then, interesting to me to find three or four Shakespearian
references in the Sunday papers and several websites this week to date.
One of these, if I dare mention it, was in the NY Times: an article
about how the Oxfordian theories are gaining wider acceptance. Of the
rest, the most noteworthy was the use of Much Ado III.v.12 apropos of
the Enron mess:

         I am as honest as any man living,
         that is an old man, and no honester
         than I.

This was in the newsletter of the Institute for Global Ethics,
http://www.globalethics.org

Nancy Charlton

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