LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK by Dmitry Shostakovich and Alexander Preis (Canadian Opera Company). At the Four Seasons Centre (145 Queen West). To February 23. $20-$275. 416-363-8231. See Continuing, page 98. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
She might not have a mad scene, but Dmitry Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk is just as gripping a creation as Shakespeare's.
Instead of over-vaulting ambition, however, we're given a woman undone by boredom and sexual dissatisfaction. Katerina (Nicola Beller Carbone) is married to wealthy, ineffectual merchant Zinovy (Vadim Zapletchny) and is monitored/coveted by her domineering father-in-law, Boris (Timothy Noble).
When womanizing worker Sergey (Oleg Balashov) comes onto the scene, he and Katerina lock horns, then get horny. Murder, tragedy and a trip to Siberia ensue.
Shostakovich's 1934 score overflows with strong emotion and raunchy innuendo, suggesting everything from snears and sarcasm to animal lust and bodily functions.
Highlights include Lady M's sensual aria about loneliness, and Boris's earthy ode to his aging libido. The entr'actes are symphonic in power.
Conductor Richard Bradshaw gets a huge range of sounds from the orchestra, and director Paul Curran stages the piece effectively, mixing public and private worlds and suggesting a bleak post-industrial landscape that snuffs out sensitivity. Only the crowd scenes need tweaking to maximize the work's drama.
The singers tackle their roles with verve, although the silver-voiced Carbone's passion and commitment overpower Zapletchny. Whether this is intended to make Zinovy's character less likeable is arguable.
What's not is that this opera rocks. If you think the art form's all about twittering canaries and silly melodrama, this visceral production will change your mind.