Dmitri Shostakovich’s career is the most deeply politicized in Russian music history, perhaps in all music history. Arguably his most politicized composition is his alluring, macabre opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.”
“Lady Macbeth,” which is being revived at the Metropolitan Opera through Oct. 21, was condemned in the Soviet press in 1936, two years after its successful premiere in Leningrad. The opera was performed in that city, now called St. Petersburg, some 50 times in 1934, and it had been presented in Cleveland, New York and Philadelphia, along with Buenos Aires, London, Prague, Stockholm and Zurich. But the hammer came down. Shostakovich was censured by the Stalinist regime and feared for his career, as well as his safety.
Photo credit: The 1934 production of Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” in Moscow at the Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater, where the work took on the title “Katerina Izmailova.”Credit...via Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater