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  • Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk [Blu-ray]
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Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk [Blu-ray]

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Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk [Blu-ray] + Adams - Death of Klinghoffer / Randle, Sylvan, Howard, Maltman, Boutros, Melrose, Bickley, LSO
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Product Details

  • Actors: Shostakovich, Jansons, Kusej, Westbroek
  • Directors: Grimm
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Classical, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Russian (PCM Surround), Russian (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: Dutch, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: June 30, 2009
  • Run Time: 236 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0025XW96I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,951 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Eva-Maria Westbrook, Christopher Ventris, Carole Wilson, and Vladimir Vaneev star in this De Nederlandse Opera production of the Shostakovich opera conducted by Mariss Jansons.

Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, a lurid tale of sex, murder, and corruption, premiered in 1934 and was a success until Stalin saw it two years later, resulting in a Pravda review that viciously condemned it. It was later replaced by an expurgated version, now called Katerina Ismailova after the work's principal character. The original version has now reclaimed its place on international stages. The heroine is the daughter-in-law of Boris, a greedy, lecherous merchant, and the frustrated wife of his impotent son. Katerina poisons Boris and when her husband returns she and her lover, Sergei, kill him too, burying him in the cellar. The body is discovered during their wedding party. Haunted by guilt, Katerina confesses and the newlyweds are consigned to Siberia. When Sergei takes up with another woman, Katerina pushes her into the river and then jumps in herself.

Director Martin Kusej keeps the narrative moving inexorably to its fatal ending while indulging in broad satirical portraits of the symbols of society's power to crush the individual. Katerina is a tragic heroine trapped in a cage-like structure that serves as the merchant's house, her bedroom (bare but with a collection of shoes that would satisfy Imelda Marcos), and later the prison transport where she meets her end. Some of the satire is broad--the policemen are out of a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. And there's abundant acreage of human flesh on display, along with a near-rape and enough consensual sex to warrant an "X" rating. But it all fits a tale where the orchestra is often in porno territory, as in the famous trombone glissandos so prominent in Katerina and Sergei's first coupling. Kusej's only serious flaw is at the end, where he has Katerina lynched by her fellow-prisoners though the text clearly has her committing suicide by drowning.

This production has the advantage of one of the world's great orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw, and its conductor, Mariss Jansons. They do everything brilliantly, whether it's a yearning string passage or a coarse depiction of on-stage brutality. As Katerina, Eva-Marie Westbrook is compelling, singing well and acting with convincing authority. Christopher Ventris' Sergei looks, acts, and sings like a burly seducer should. Boris, the dirty old man, is Vladimir Vaneev, whose ample bass and acting present a fully-rounded figure that goes beyond the part's stage villain aspects. Video director Thomas Grimm makes it all lucid on disc, the cameras rarely venturing away from what must be seen. It all adds up to a powerful performance of a powerful opera. --Dan Davis

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Wolf on August 30, 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is an opera more heard about than seen. The facts of its notoriety are well known. After opening in 1934 in Leningrad and Moscow, the opera catapulted the 29-year-old composer to superstardom. Within two years, it had been performed 83 times to sold-out houses in Leningrad, nearly 100 times in Moscow, and reached the stage in London, Stockholm, Zürich, Copenhagen, Argentina, Czechoslovakia, New York, and even Cleveland.

Then on Jan. 26, 1936, Stalin showed up at the Bolshoi to see what the fuss was about -- and all hell broke loose. The Great Leader, entourage in tow, stormed out of his box before the show was over. Two days later an editorial on Pravda's front page condemned the opera and its composer. Lady Macbeth soon disappeared. Shostakovich, declared an Enemy of the People, feared for his life.

After watching Mariss Jansons conduct Lady Macbeth with Eva-Maria Westbroek in the title role in this 2006 Amsterdam staging, the surprise is not that Lady Macbeth upset Stalin, who slaughtered millions on a whim but was a prude on matters sexual. The surprise is that Shostakovich wasn't marched out and executed on the spot -- which I don't doubt would have happened had Stalin witnessed this particular production.

I've seen my two-Blu-ray set from start to finish three times, and I can hardly take in the daring performance Westbroek delivers. I believe there are times she forgets where she is, forgets who she is, so complete is her commitment to the role, so white-hot is her involvement in realizing the multilayered character of Shostakovich's Katerina Ismailova.

Katerina is a bored, rich housewife stuck in a provincial backwater.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ultrarunner on June 30, 2011
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Shostakovich opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, was disliked by Stalin. He had seen it is December 1935. To receive Stalin's displeasure meant that you would be shot. The composer was lucky he was not. I know in jest, some singers actually do think, that a composer should be shot for inflicting some difficult part upon them, but this nearly happened to this great man. He fought back in his so called war symphonies,5-9. There is a DVD on this subject, called Shostakovich against Stalin The war Symphonies.

Mariss Jansons vigorously conducts the Royal Concertgebown orchestra.He is a Shostakovich specialist. The Staging by Martin Kusej,may not appeal to traditionalists.I then suggest you obtain the version conducted by James Conlon with the rough hawn voice of Jeanne Charbonnet. I can recommend this version, as I have it. In this modern staged version, Katerina is well portrayed by Eva-Maria Westbroek,who is also Sieglinde on the Blu ray version of Wagners Die Walkure, conducted by Simon Rattle.She is able to to sing this role, as any aspiring Brunnhilde should be able to do. Sergey is sung by Chris Ventris and Boris is Vladimir Vaneev.All the parts are well sung. For those lovers of modern staging this is a must for your collection.
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