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Culture news, 19.04.2004 15:02

Premiere of Dmitry Shostakovich's opera "The Nose" at the Mariinsky Theatre

Premiere at the Mariinsky The premiere of a new version of Dmitry Shostakovich's "The Nose" at the Mariinsky Theater last week was a remarkable success.

The opera is loosely based on Nikolai Gogol's 19th century story of the same name and focuses on feeelings of a Major Kovalyov when his nose becomes mysteriously detached and he chases the runaway body part around central St. Petersburg. The new Mariinsky production is only Russia's third staging of Shostakovich's first opera since it was written in 1928.

Vocally, "The Nose" with its challenging multiple ensembles requiring tremendous teamwork demonstrates an array of bright performances, from the tormented Kovalyov (Vladimir Tyulpanov) to a Napoleonic Nose oozing self-importance (Avgust Amonov) to a mephistophelian doctor (Alexander Morozov).

The Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gergiev followed the score with precision and ease producing an inspired and immaculate performance. Not a single nuance of the multi-faceted work has been ignored, not a single accent missed, the raw eccentric swaps from tonality to atonality are amazingly brisk.

The opulent, imaginative sets by designer Zinovy Margolin are much to the shows's advantage. Both sides and the ceiling of the stage served as apartment buildings, while video showing a cobble-stone road was projected against the backdrop.

The scenery isn't static but is used for singers' exits and entrances, appearing as houses or cupboards, one even holding a giant overcoat - an obvious nod to another of Gogol's famous works.

Symphonic, innovative, vocally challenging and boasting an enormous libretto, "The Nose" has been a forgotten jewel in repertoire of Russian theater. This new staging brings a masterpiece back to center stage.

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