Opera in four acts and nine images
Composer Dmitri Shostakovich · Libretto by Aleksander G. Preiss and the composer after the correspondent tale by Nikolaj S. Leskow
In Russian with English and German surtitles | New Production
Dates & Tickets
Cast for all dates
- Musikalische Leitung
- Oksana Lyniv
- Harry Kupfer
- Hans Schavernoch
- Yan Tax
- Thomas Reimer
- Jürgen Hoffmann
- Malte Krasting
- Sören Eckhoff
- Boris Timofejewitsch Ismailow
- Anatoli Kotscherga
- Sinowi Borissowitsch Ismailow
- Sergey Skorokhodov
- Katerina Lwowna Ismailowa
- Anja Kampe
- Misha Didyk
- Heike Grötzinger
- Kevin Conners
- Christian Rieger
- Sean Michael Plumb
- Milan Siljanov
- Goran Jurić
- Alexey Shishlyaev
- Kristof Klorek
- Dean Power
- Peter Lobert
- Oleg Davydov
- Anna Lapkovskaja
- Alter Zwangsarbeiter
- Alexey Shishlyaev
- Selene Zanetti
- Bayerisches Staatsorchester
- Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper
Media CentreTo List of Performances
A young woman, married to a wealthy man, but miserably lonely; trapped within a world ruled with an iron fist. Katerina is driven by a lust for life and for love. Her husband, though, is impotent; her father-in-law a tyrant. No wonder, then, that she longs to free herself from this yoke. When Sergei starts work on the family estate, she sees in him a chance for salvation. However, their subsequent affair marks the beginning of a descent into crime.
The opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, first performed in Leningrad in 1934, is a tale about the pursuit of self-fulfilment. Yet, the outcome is lawlessness and the deaths of four people. Shostakovich tells the story using idiosyncratic music that simmers, smoulders and erupts. Katerina's struggle for a happier life includes a longing for sexual gratification. This scene's graphic portrayal led to the opera being banned in the Soviet Union for many years and the composer almost ending up in a labour camp. The question examined in Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, concerning the permitted lengths a person might go to, to escape from dehumanising circumstances, has never lost its relevance.
Scene 1. Yekaterina Lvovna, called Katerina, has been married for five years to the merchant, Zinovy Borisovich Izmailov. Boredom and inactivity define her life, but she yearns for something more. She is still childless, a situation for which Boris Timofeyevich, her father-in-law, blames her. When Katerina refuses to accept responsibility for her marriage’s lack of children, Boris threatens her. Zinovy then has to urgently travel to the Izmailovs’ remote mill, while Boris demands that his workers sing him a farewell song. At the same time, he forces Katerina to humbly swear fidelity to her man.
Scene 2. The new labourer, Sergey, incites his colleagues to seriously abuse the cook, Aksinya. Katerina interrupts their actions, but feels drawn to Sergey, who suggests they have a wrestle. Boris appears suddenly and announces that he will punish Katerina. Then he wants to eat mushrooms for dinner.
Interlude: Allegro con brio
Scene 3. That evening in her bedroom, Katerina painfully senses the emptiness and loneliness of her life. She longs for love. Under the disguise of wanting to borrow a book, Sergey visits her and begins a new, pretend game of wrestling with her. After initially resisting, she gives up fighting against him and the two begin to make love.
Scene 4. Unable to sleep, Boris keeps watch over the courtyard, plagued by worry and his growing desire for Katerina. When he sees a light on in his daughter-in-law’s room, he forgets himself and decides to go to her. On the way, he discovers Sergey climbing out of Katerina’s room, orders his men to catch him and hold him, before horribly whipping him in front of her eyes. Now hungry, Boris demands more mushrooms. Katerina laces these with rat poison, and successfully diverts all suspicion away from her.
Interlude [Passacaglia]: Largo
Scene 5. Katerina now spends her nights with Sergey. Tormented by insomnia and a hunger for love, the ghost of Boris appears before her. She promises Sergey that she will soon make him a merchant. Zinovy returns in the middle of the night. Having heard rumours of Katerina’s affair, he mistrustfully quizzes her. His suspicions are confirmed when he finds a belt, with which he then starts hitting his wife. Katerina calls upon the hiding Sergey’s help, and together they kill Zinovy and hide his corpse in the cellar.
Scene 6. Katerina and Sergey wed. While the wedding guests enter the church, a drunken, shabby peasant searches for schnapps in the cellar, where he stumbles across Zinovy’s rotting corpse, before running to the police, screaming.
Scene 7. The corrupt policemen are pleased by the change and the excuse to take part in the wedding celebrations.
Scene 8. In the middle of the feast, Katerina notices the broken cellar lock and wants to flee with Sergey. But it is too late. The police have surrounded the courtyard. Katerina then confesses and the culprits are arrested.
Scene 9. On the march to Siberia, the convicts sing about their hopeless destiny. Among the prisoners are Katerina and Sergey. In the bivouac, Sergey rejects Katerina’s tenderness, as he feels betrayed by her, and the fact that she is now a poor, forced labourer means that she no longer holds any value for him. He then begins an affair with another prisoner, the young Sonyetka, who, in return for sexual favours, goads him into the cruel humiliation of Katerina. Katerina is desperate, and can no longer take the ridicule from the others. When the prisoners set out the next morning, Katerina kills Sonyetka and herself.
Oksana Lyniv, geboren in Brody/Ukraine, studierte Dirigieren u. a. an der Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden. Von 2008 bis 2013 war sie stellvertretende Chefdirigentin am Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater. Als Dirigentin leitete sie u. a. Opernaufführungen an der Estnischen Nationaloper, der Oper Bonn und der Königlichen Oper in Stockholm. In den Spielzeiten 2013/14-2016/17 war sie an der Bayerischen Staatsoper als Assistentin des Generalmusikdirektors Kirill Petrenko engagiert. Hier dirigierte sie u. a. La clemenza di Tito, La traviata und Le Comte Ory. 2015 debütierte sie an der Kungliga Operan in Stockholm mit Der Nussknacker, es folgten weitere Debüts u. a. am Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona (Der fliegende Holländer). Seit der Spielzeit 2017/18 ist sie Chefdirigentin der Oper Graz. (Stand: 2017)