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Shostakovich reading notes II

April 23, 2009

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District

-original story by Nikolai Leskov

— Katerina Ismailov is a bored housewife who cheats on her husband with a worker, kills her father-in-law, her husband, and her nephew. She is selfish and her only outlet is crime.

– Shostakovich’s opera depicts a more sympathetic character who is a victim of her circumstances. She murders her father-in-law after he tries to seduce her, her lover Sergei murders her husband, and Shostakovich eliminates the murder of the nephew altogether. Although, in the end, she kills herself and the woman Sergei becomes interested in.

– Lady Macbeth premiered in January 1934, was hailed by critics

– Shostakovich had plans for a operatic trilogy on the single subject of “Russian women in various historical periods”

– January 1936, Stalin and entourage visited the opera; the next day Pravda, the main Russian newspaper, printed “Muddle Instead of Music”

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