Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at the Met

MacB_0032a* Notes *
A revival of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk opened at the Metropolitan Opera last night. Graham Vick's 1994 production is humorous and makes quite good use of space, despite being essentially constrained to one room (pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard). Though there was much going on at all times, the staging enhanced the piece, rather than detracting from it. The brides wielding vacuum cleaners in Act I and the disco ball of Act III were particularly entertaining.

Maestro James Conlon conducted the Met Orchestra to fine effect. The playing was intense yet polished. There were beautiful contributions from the bassoon, English horn, and bass clarinet. The brass sounded imposing. Likewise the chorus sounded together and formidable.

Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek is a fiery Katerina Lvovna Ismailov, radiating strength, but able to sound desperate and ultimately despairing. Brandon Jovanovich convinced as Sergei. His voice is both powerful and lovely. Raymond Very's voice contrasted nicely with Jovanovich's. His Zinoviy Borisovich Izmailov was bungling without being a complete buffoon. Anatoli Kotscherga made for a sinister Boris Timofeyevich Izmailov, his voice entirely suiting the role.

* Tattling *
We sat in a part of the dress circle that was not especially crowded. At least one watch alarm and one mobile telephone rang during the second half of the opera.


Staatsoper Stuttgart's production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk came to San Francisco for six performances last November. The set was stark and geometric. The choreography was highly artificial and omnipresent, at times it was effective.

Soprano Solveig Kringelborn was excellent as the lead, Katerina Lvovna Ismailova. Her voice was powerful, but she had good control as well. Christopher Ventris as Sergei was one of the better tenors I've heard this year, his voice is very pretty indeed. Also strong was mezzo-soprano Jane Dutton, who had the small part of Sonyetka in Act IV. Her duet with Sergei was the high point of the opera.

Shostakovich's music was at times melodramatic, but on the whole, it was rather good.