Yesterday evening the Met revived Graham Vick’s production of Shostakovich’s 20th century masterpiece Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. A few remarks about the production. The Met has mounted this staging in 1994, 2000, 2014, and now in this year. To its discredit the Met has yet to include the opera in its HD series. I suspect that its subject matter that so distressed Stalin when he saw the opera in 1936 may be the reason for the opera’s absence from the TV presentations. How many times do we need to be offered Bohème or Lucia by the company?
Two important debuts were made yesterday. Soprano Svetlana Sozdateleva portrayed the title character who despite murdering her husband and father-in-law manages to be a sympathetic character in a bleak story that seems to meld Dostoyevsky with Gilbert and Sullivan. Ms Sozdateleva is a Russian who is a star of Moscow’s Bolshoi Opera. Anna Netrebko is similarly a Russian star soprano. She was discarded by the Met for being Russian as a consequence of the invasion of Ukraine. Sozdateleva was engaged despite being Russian. The distinction between the two singers seems to be one without a difference. The new replacement Russian soprano seemed quite good as the doomed Katerina.
A second debut was that of conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson. She bears the burden of being the wife of the Met’s General Manager Peter Gelb. This is a situation which could impose an unfair standard to Maestra Wilson. Happily she got a brilliant performance out of the soloists, chorus, and the Met’s superb orchestra. Shostakovich’s score to this work is one of opera’s most dazzling creations. It thunders, sighs, mocks, and comments on the action with an unequaled bite. Wilson showed complete mastery of a demanding masterwork. I look forward to hearing her in other operas.