Another first time for discovering new opera in live performance – I have seen Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” recorded on Mezzo, while nothing compares to the live experience with excellent orchestra led by legendary conductor and proper cast and staging. This was one excellent evening full of excitement and great musical experiences.
Regardless of last-minute sad news that Nina Stemme is indisposed (kudos to Salzburg Festival staff announcing it in a way they did – happy to introduce the audience to the new artist) and the lead role will be sung by young soprano from Mariinsky Evgenia Muravova, the excitement was very high and the audience greeted Mariss Jansons approaching podium with high enthusiasm. And it kept up throughout the evening – as all the elements of great musical theatre were in place and the synergy created transported us into another time and place.
Evgenia Muraveva was initially cast to sing roles of Aksinya/ Convict thus she was fully into the staging of the production. Katerina is one of her repertoire roles back home at Mariinsky, and indisposition of Nina Stemme provided her this outstanding opportunity which she used excellently, since audience appreciation showed it with enthusiastic, lengthy ovation at the curtain calls. Muraveva has a powerful dramatic soprano, and I believe we will see her in demanding dramatic roles in the future.
Excellent in his role of Boris Timofeyevich Izmaylov was Dmitry Ulyanov, constructing his character skillfully balancing on the border between grotesque and drama.
Brandon Jovanovich was the only not native Russian speaker of the lead cast, and this put him in a bit disadvantageous position, especially among those audience members, who understand the language. Regardless of the shortcoming, I have to praise his good pronunciation and vocal skills in delivering this quite complicated role. Jovanovich as Sergei presented us with typical character portrayal, encompassing lust, greed and indignity.
Other roles were cast with excellent acting singers, especially I would like to compliment Maxim Paster as Zinowy Borisovich Izmaylov and Stanislav Trofimov as Pope.
The staging and direction of the production was superb, fully married to the musical score and regardless of assumed transposition in time – from pre-revolution Russia to anytime socialist era Soviet Union (could be also Mtsensk), the tone and atmosphere was perfectly well captured, emphasizing neglected environment, shabby, poor and drunken common people crowd, being them workers or convicts. The urgency and impact of Shostakovich impressive score was masterfully read by Mariss Jansons, and Vienna Philarmoniker delivered under his baton impeccably.
Dmitry Shostakovich • Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District
Opera in four acts (original version, 1930–32)
Libretto by Alexander Preis and Dmitry Shostakovich after the short story of the same name (1865) by Nikolai Leskov
Performance on August 10th, 2017
Mariss Jansons, Conductor
Andreas Kriegenburg, Director
Harald B. Thor, Sets
Tanja Hofmann, Costumes
Stefan Bolliger, Lighting
Christian Arseni, Dramaturgy
Evgenia Muraveva, Katerina Lvovna Izmaylova
Dmitry Ulyanov, Boris Timofeyevich Izmaylov
Maxim Paster, Zinowy Borisovich Izmaylov
Brandon Jovanovich, Sergey
Svetlana Chuklinova, Aksinya / Woman Convict
Andrei Popov, Shabby Peasant
Oleg Budaratskiy, Porter / Sentry
Igor Onishchenko, Millhand
Vasily Efimov, Coachman / Teacher
Stanislav Trofimov, Pope
Alexey Shishlyaev, Chief of Police
Valentin Anikin, Policeman / Officer
Ksenia Dudnikova, Sonyetka
Andrii Goniukov, Old Convict
Gleb Peryazev*, Manager
Martin Müller, First Worker
Oleg Zalytskiy, Second Worker / Drunken Guest
Ilya Kutyukin*, Third Worker
Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus
Ernst Raffelsberger, Chorus Master
Angelika-Prokopp-Sommerakademie der Wiener Philharmoniker, Stage music