Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District

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.

Premiere at 28. November 2016

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.