Monday, March 12, 2012

Lady Macbeth of Mtensk in Amsterdam (Opus Arte DVD)

I am embarrassed to say that this was my first encounter with Shostakovich's wonderful opera Lady Macbeth of Mtensk. Anyone else who has missed out would do well to pick up this excellent Opus Arte release from Netherlands Opera.

Mariss Jansons conducts at a feverish pitch. The camera focuses on him in the orchestral interludes and it is impressive to see his double-breasted suit remain fully buttoned throughout, in striking contrast to the lack of clothing on stage. Martin Kusej's production is minimalist in design and raunchy in execution. The singing is uniformly excellent. Katerina Ismailova is the one truly multidimensional character, sung with great expressiveness by Eva-Maria Westbroek. Christopher Ventris (solid in the title role of the Nagano/Lehnhoff Parsifal, also on Opus Arte) sings Sergey forcefully. Vladimir Vaneev is a wonderfully repellent Boris Timofeyevich Ismailov (Katerina's father-in-law and first victim), doubling up in the last act as the Old Convict. The chorus is first-rate.

Here is an extract from the final act that gives the flavor of the production and some of the principals.