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Culture news, 02.04.2004 16:00

Mariinsky stages Shostakovich's 'Nose'

Dmitry Shostakovich The stage life of the opera has been full of contradictions, being reminiscent, in a way, of the fate of the Russian composer himself. Symphonic, innovative, vocally challenging and boasting a libretto with several dozen characters, the opera has been a tough nut to crack for many companies.

But the major problem, Alexandrov believes, was in the audiences. "The official propaganda was cultivating a primitive perception of opera in the people," he said. "This art used to be seen as some kind of costumed concert by most audiences. The consequences of this are still felt, which does make me a bit nervous."

The last thing one should expect from Alexandrov's staging is an illustration of Gogol's prose. What the production will attempt to be is an emotional journey, where the viewers plunge into the phantasmagoric world of the semi-conscious main character, balancing on the verge of insanity. The sets by designer Zinovy Margolin will provide an adequate yet provocative visual accompaniment to these themes.

The libretto of the opera includes episodes from several other works by Gogol, including "Dead Souls," "The Marriage," "Taras Bulba" and "The Night Before Christmas." The operatic score calls for piano, and the Russian folk instruments domras and balalaikas, in addition to a regular symphony orchestra.

Rehearsing for the main roles are Vladimir Tyulpanov, Vladislav Sulimsky, Gennady Bezzubenkov, Konstantin Pluzhnikov, Edem Umerov and Larisa Shevchenko.

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