In Shostakovich's second opera, the tedium of everyday Russian life determines the fate of protagonist Katerina Ismailova. It is a work about the irrepressible nature of sexual urges, about erotic deeds of violence and liberation. Some of the scenes reached an unheard-of level of explicitness and were likely to have shocked the first audiences, but the work as a whole is an ode to love. The composer employs a polymorphic style with a wide variety of collage-like elements, but classical structures are clearly recognizable as well. The work's initial success was silenced by the publication of an official denunciation of the opera in the official Communist Party newspaper Pravda; this attack heralded a merciless, widespread and long-lasting idealistic clampdown on the Soviet music world.
This is how Eva-Maria Westbroek sums up the life and state of mind of Katerina Lvovna Ismailova, her characer: "I am in my house surrounded by my shoes which is my only light in my life because I'm not very happy in my marriage and my father-in-law is also quite abusive and I do not know what to do with myself. All I can do is sleeping, think about people or even animals or … Everybody has something to do, somewhere to go and I'm alone and bored and miserable."
Watch Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, an opera by Dmitri Shostakovich, directed for stage by Martin Kušej at De Nederlandse Opera. With Eva-Maria Westbroek, Christopher Ventris, Vladimir Vaneev, ...
Michael Boder, Stein Winge – Graham Clark (The Clerk, A Scrivener), Robert Brubaker (Prince Vasili Golitzin) – Gran Teatre del Liceu
Mariss Jansons, Martin Kušej – Eva-Maria Westbroek (Katerina Lvovna Ismailova), Ludovít Ludha (Zinovy Borisovich Ismailov), Christopher Ventris (Sergey) – De Nederlandse Opera