Shostakovich opera has Metropolitan Opera premiere

Fri Mar 5, 2010 2:29pm EST
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By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Dmitri Shostakovich's opera "The Nose" makes a belated Metropolitan Opera premiere on Friday and even before the reviews are in, performances have nearly sold out.

The new production of "The Nose," based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol, is staged and designed by South African artist William Kentridge whose film installations, prints and drawings are currently exhibited at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Under the baton of Valery Gergiev, Tony Award-winner Brazilian opera star Paulo Szot will make his Metropolitan Opera debut as Kovalyov, a resident of St. Petersburg, who awakes one morning to find his nose missing.

Kovalyov later spots his nose in the Kazan Cathedral, but the nose has since acquired a higher rank than Kovalyov and declines to return to its owner's face.

"The opera is about what constitutes a person -- how singular we are, and how much we are divided against ourselves. And it's also about the terrors of hierarchy," says Kentridge.

In the world of Shostakovich's "The Nose," body parts vanish and turn up as public officials. Life is ruled by what the director calls "an absurd logic.

Kentridge began his career as a founding member, actor, designer, and director with the Junction Avenue Theater Company in Johannesburg. There he developed his multimedia approach to theater, combining drawing, film, and live performance, illuminating the South African system of apartheid.

"The Nose" was Shostakovich's first opera, written between 1927 and 1928 when the composer was in his early 20s.

"The Nose" is a co-production of the Met, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, and the Opera National de Lyon.

Performances are at The Metropolitan House at Lincoln Center in New York on March 5, 11, 13, 18, 23, and 25.

<p>Paulo Szot as Kovalyov in Dmitri Shostakovich's "The Nose" is seen during a rehearsal on March 2, 2010 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. REUTERS/Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera/Handout</p>