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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Metropolitan Opera Preview: The Nose

The Shostakovich comedy is back for another run.
(For the Superconductor review of The Nose, visit this link.) by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Nose makes a run for it as the Met revives William Kentridge's 2010 production.
Image © 2010 The Metropolitan Opera.
Opera fans, rejoice: the beezer is back.

The Nose, based on a story by Nikolai Gogol is Shostakovich's first opera, a wild, absurdist comedy that recounts the story of Kovalyov, an unfortunate bureaucrat (Paulo Szot, reprising his performance from 2010) who receives an unexpected total rhinectomy from his barber one morning.

The Nose (by this time, a character in its own right) leads Kovalyov on a merry chase through St. Petersburg, allowing Shostakovich to musically satirize most of Russian society in the 1920s. (Small wonder this opera was banned by the Soviet government.) The effort to re-attach the wayward proboscis is stymied when the Nose grows to life-size and becomes a state councillor, effectively outranking the lowly Kovalyov and refusing to return to his face.

Shostakovich's experimental score is accompanied by the effective and sometimes hallucinatory visuals by director William Kentridge. The director and visual artist reimagines St. Petersburg as a black-and-white comic nightmare. Projections, moving sets, papier-mache puppets and animated films combine to make The Nose the pick of this fall's Met revivals. Valery Gergiev returns to conduct.

Here's an excerpt from the score:

This season, The Nose premieres on Sept. 28 at a special matinee performance. All performances of The Nose are played without intermission--or sneeze breaks.

Recording Recommendation:
Mariinsky Orchestra cond. Valery Gergiev (Mariinsky Label, 2009)
This 2009 recording of The Nose did much to restore this forgotten opera to the repertory. It also marked the launch of the Mariinsky Theater's own boutique record label. Valery Gergiev is a powerful, fiery Shostakovich conductor, and his forces are fearless in confronting the numerous musical difficulties of this complex score.

Tickets for The Nose are available at MetOperaFamily.Org, by calling (212) 362-6000, or at the box office starting Aug. 11.

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