Shostakovich's subversive opera directed for stage by Martin Kušej in a landmark production from 2006 to celebrate the composer's 100th birthday. Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek leads the cast as the tragic heroine driven to crime by boredom and despair.
In 2006, Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam programmed Shostakovich's LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth. Mariss Jansons, chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and one of the best-known conductors of Shostakovich, made here his first appearance as guest conductor at Dutch National Opera.
In Shostakovich's second opera, the tedium of everyday Russian life determines the fate of protagonist Katerina Ismailova. LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK is a work about the irrepressible nature of sexual urges, about erotic deeds of violence and liberation. But the work as a whole is an ode to love.
Shostakovich uses an eclectic 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 musical world.
LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK is directed for stage by the Austrian Martin Kušej, known for his intelligent and hard-hitting productions, which have been acclaimed at the Salzburg Festival and Staatstheater Stuttgart.
This was the debut of soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek at the Dutch National Opera as Katerina Lvovna Ismailova. She leads a strong international cast including the Ukrainian bass Anatoly Kotcherga (Boris Timofeyevich Ismailov), the Slovak tenor Ludovit Ludha (Zinovy Borisovich Ismailov) and the British tenor Christopher Ventris (Sergei).