Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
Premiere performances: 24 and 26 November 2023 at the State Opera
The State OperaApproximate running time
2 hours 55 minutes, 1 intermission (20 minutes) minutesLanguage
In Russian, surtitles in Czech, EnglishPremiere
November 24, 2023
State Opera Chorus
State Opera Orchestra
National Theatre Opera Ballet
The Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich set Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk to a libretto he wrote together with Alexander Preis after the eponymous novella by Nikolai Leskov. He himself referred to the opera as a satirical tragedy. The main character, Katerina, is a murderess haunted by qualms of conscience. Yet, with a touch of bitter humour, Shostakovich also focuses on the moral decay of the inhabitants of a Russian village, revealing the omnipresent torpidity and recklessness. Life without hope and love is the very reason for the heroine’s downfall.
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk premiered to great acclaim in 1934 at the Small Opera Theatre in Leningrad (today St Petersburg). Yet it would only enjoy general popularity in Russia until January 1936, when Joseph Stalin attended a performance at the Bolshoi in Moscow, following which the official Communist Party newspaper Pravda condemned the piece in the infamous article titled “Muddle instead of music”. Subsequently, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk had to be withdrawn from the repertoire of theatres throughout the Soviet Union. (By the way, it was also banned in Nazi Germany.) Three days later when Stalin saw the production in Moscow, the opera received its premiere, for the very first time in German translation, at the Neues deutsches Theater (now the State Opera) in Prague, conducted by Georg Széll and staged by Renato Mordo. Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk was prohibited in Russia until 1963, when its revised version, Katerina Izmailova, was first performed in Moscow.
After the composer’s death, the majority of opera houses worldwide returned to the original version, which is also the case of the new production to be presented at the State Opera.
WARNING: We would like to remind the audience of nudity, explicit sex scenes, violence and e-cigarette smoking during the show.
Suitable for audiences aged 15+.
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Where to buy tickets
The National Theatre sells tickets up to 6 months in advance. From December 1, 9 am, we started selling tickets for the performances of Drama, Ballet, Opera and Laterna magika until the end of May 2024.
What to wear?
By their appearance, attire and behaviour, the audience is obliged to adhere to the accustomed practice expected from them when attending a theatre performance.
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