Russians to stage ‘Macbeth’ in Seoul

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Russians to stage ‘Macbeth’ in Seoul

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The opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” will hit stages around the world to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s (1906-75) birth. Perhaps the most anticipated performance, however, will be by the London Royal Opera House, which starts on Sept. 30.
The London production will be followed by a series of shows for the 2006-2007 season by the Canadian Opera Company, the Grand Geneva Theatre, Moscow Bolshoi Opera, Latvian National opera and Wiesbaden opera.
The Kirov Opera of St. Petersburg, which is led by Valery Gergiev, plans to take to the stage on Aug. 20 at the London Proms Festival and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, in Feb. 4, 2007.
In Korea, “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” will be performed for the first time by Helicon Opera Theater of Moscow on Sept. 22. The visit was arranged by organizers from the Korean and Russian communities as a part of next month’s “Russian Nights Festival.”
“Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,” based on the novel by Nikolai Leskov that the author adapted from Shakesphere’s “Lady Macbeth,” is the story of a woman trying to break free from repression.
After its premiere in St. Petersburg on Jan. 22, 1934, the opera was performed over 180 times in the next two years, to great reviews. In 1936, a curious Joseph Stalin and a pack of high Soviet officials, having heard the buzz about the opera, went to the theater for a closer look.
Two days later, the leading Soviet newspaper, Pravda, criticized the opera in an article titled “Confusion instead of music,” saying the work was one of “discord created by leftists with a disgraceful point of view.”
Stalin was reportedly offended by a scene in which a woman murders her husband and father-in-law, possibly due to her own fears of being assassinated. The incident became one of the most famous scandals in Russian music history.
In order to get permission to perform the opera, major scenes in the production had to be modified or cut.
Helicon Opera Theater, which performs in Seoul next month, is not as well known in Korea as the Bolshoi Opera or the Mariinsky Theatre, but the troupe is made up of young, talented actors and musicians. It was founded in 1990 by the director Dmitry Bertman, who was only 22 at the time.
The troupe originally had only seven members; it now comprises 350 people. Helicon opera is known for its skilled reinterpretations of older works.


by Lee Jang-jik

“Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” will be on stage at Seongnam Art Center’s Opera House on Sept. 22 through 24 at 7 p.m., at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Call (02) 2646-1074.

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