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Shostakovich - Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
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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
- Sung in Russian with subtitles
- "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk: The Tragedy of Katerina Ismailova": a documentary film by Reiner E. Moritz, including interviews with stage director Martin Kusej, music director Mariss Jansons, and members of the cast
- Illustrated synopsis
- Cast gallery
- Recorded in high definition and true surround sound
Top Customer Reviews
Visually the production is stunning, a winner in all respects and I must congratulate Opus Arte for making it avaliable on DVD. I knew of producer Kusej's work only from reference, as not understanding german I have not attended any of his theatre productions. I haven't seen the work's EMI release on DVD of a Liceu staging, but found Gramophone's review of it rather demolishing (I don't know if they have turned their eyes yet to this Opus Arte Amsterdam version, but I should expect nothing short of a most favourable review from them).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk", Shostakovich’s second and last opera, is a work of immense dramatic power. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Alex Craig
Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is an opera more heard about than seen. The facts of its notoriety are well known. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jeff Wolf
One of the great operas of the twentieth century. Surpassed only by Janacek's Jenufa in breadth and depth of feeling.Published 21 months ago by richard c. lewis jr.
Shostakovich is my favorite composer. This has a very alarming scene which makes it X rated, but probably was very accurate when women became part of the workforce in the early... Read morePublished on August 8, 2013 by DouglasMatley
There was a time when this opera was regarded as erotically graphic in a "crossing the line" sort of way. Read morePublished on June 13, 2012 by New Yorker
This is one of my favourite productions. Not only is it a fabulous opera containing a lot of interesting, psychological material, but Martin Kusej knows how to put it on stage and... Read morePublished on June 24, 2009 by Thomas Pollak
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