So allow me to share some rather quick observations about my early weekend, which, since I am a lazy bastard, started very early this Friday – I knew this was going to be a strange one when I saw that someone came to our page by doing a search “Jeff Scholes 2007” – now for those who know who Mr. Jeff Scholes is this should be enough of a shock to fill many weekend afternoons of frightened shivering and utter confusion – I suppose there exists out there a new “2007” version.
So I got the new 2006 production of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk directed by Martin Kusej and Nikolaus Lehnhoff at De Nederlandse Opera which is available on Netflix and Amazon. Simply judging by the photo on the cover of this 2 DVD version (includes an hour long documentary about the production) one can already tell that this is a rather brave and very perverse version of the classic which, although controversial, did not explicitly make all the points that Kusej-Lehnhoff version makes: including the implication that Sergei rapes Katerina, that Katerina is a virgin after years of marriage to Zinoviy who, in turn, looks rather weak, and that Boris Timofeyevich is clearly intending on seducing his daughter-in-law and only her affair with Sergei prevents him from proceeding with the plan – one cannot help but wonder how this opera was ever permitted on stage before it’s inevitable condemnation and banishment from “pure” Soviet opera stage in 1936.
As is well-known, young Dimitri’s second opera has first premiered on January 22nd of 1934 at Leningrad Maliy Theater – it was well received and was only “condemned” in 1936 after the great Georgian himself found it vulgar and, of course, anything the fearless leader did not like was against the very essence of the progressive Soviet operatic culture – only in 1960s the opera was revived under a new name – Katerina Izmailova – and with some changes. This is how Tim Ashley (of The Guardian) eloquently describes the event of the opera’s unfortunate banishment. Continue reading