I've been otherwise occupied, but now I have time for a few words about the Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (by Dmitri Shostakovich of course) directed by Ole Anders Tandberg, originally a co-production of the Norwegian National Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin (2014).

The location is an approximately contemporary Norwegian fishing community, which I thought very suitable in advance, but the obvious Russian features of the opera stretched my capacity for the suspension of disbelief too much. On the other hand the superimposed Norwegian features, for instance the marching girl band, seemed only odd to me. I would have preferred a Russian setting, or if that would have been too literal-minded for the director, an undefined timeless place. Probably it worked better in Norway. Also the underlined sexuality in this production seemed both childish and old fashioned. Especially the policemen with their ironing boards in the third act, intended to be comical, were baffling.

I saw the other version, Katerina Izmailova, in the early 1980s. Unfortunately I don't recall it well enough for any comparison. I only remember that the staging was very plain and that I was bored. This production wasn't boring, and finally strangely cathartic and uplifting.

In the programme Shostakovich is quoted telling about the admirable soulful character of his heroine stultified by the circumstances, which only shows how very young he was when he composed the opera. It would have been interesting to see the other operas of the tetralogy he planned, especially the last one: a Soviet woman.