Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk Is a Towering Success in the Met’s Drama Ridden 2014 Season

The 2014 season at the Metropolitan Opera has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride and Lady Macbeth its pinnacle – from the vandalism and talks of strikes this summer with even HIzzoner Rudy Giuliani adding his stature to the protests of the Opera that this writer will not mention.

Eva-Marie Westbroek’s interpretation of Katerina reminds us that the Metropolitan Opera is not just the world’s largest, but the world’s greatest showplace for the opera.

The performance by soprano Westbroek who plays Katerina, a sultry bored housewife soon to be murderess, simply wows the audience. Westbroek captures Katerina’s vulnerability, repressed sexuality and is one of the often elusive performers whose theatrical skills do more than match her impressive voice, she simply dazzles the audience.

Tenor Brandon Jovanovich who plays Katerina’s lover Sergei is no less an actor than Ms. Westbroek. The muscular Serb, whether in his skives or laborer’s uniform captures the fickle nature of Shostakovich’s Don Juan.

These powerful performances were augmented by the creative set design, first staged in a spartan 1950’s bedroom and kitchen, to a garbage dump followed by an impressive Soviet era mural and then an equally austere prison camp greatly add to the mood of the performance.

Of course the Met’s chorus and orchestra conducted by New Yorker James Conlon once again show the dominance of the Metropolitan Opera house.

The tale, which is set roughly in 1950s, shows the lonely housewife Katerina, who is ignored by her husband and brow-beaten by her father-in-law Boris (another strong performance by Anatoli Kotscherga), ultimately finding love in the arms of Sergei, a laborer who works for the family.

Written in 1934 in what was then known as Leningrad – now St. Petersberg – in Russia, Dmitri Shostakovich’s story of adultery, murder, and betrayal was a hit for two years until Stalin walked out on a performance two years later and the production was condemned by the Soviet newspaper Pravda two days later for its supposed dissonance.

The 3-hour and 15-minute performance grips you right from the start and keeps you on your toes until the very end. It is not to be missed.

Rating 10/10

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