Two Sensual Operas

“[Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk] was meant as a tribute to the Soviet state and its new ideology – Katerina’s [sexual] revolt was an instance of class struggle, an ideal central to the way the young USSR chose to define itself.” – Mitchell Morris, Professor, UCLA Department of Musicology

Larissa Shevchenko as Katerina and Vladimir Grishko as Sergei in <em>Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk</em> (2002); Photo: Ken Howard

Larissa Shevchenko as Katerina and Vladimir Grishko as Sergei in Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk (2002); Photo: Ken Howard

During its 2002/2003 season, LA Opera presented two operas that use human sexuality as a means to a thematic end. Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk follows the story of bored merchant’s wife, Katerina, who has an affair with gallant servant, Sergei, revolting against the morality of her time. Her sexual revolt mirrored the peasant revolt that spurred on the new USSR (the opera premiered in 1932). The following spring, LA Opera presented another sensual opera, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, starring Erwin Schrott as the titular character. Mozart’s opera is about the sexual conquests of Don Juan and his attempt to seduce peasant girl, Zerlina.

Erwin Schrott as the title character in <em>Don Giovanni</em> (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

Erwin Schrott as the title character in Don Giovanni (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

The opera’s director, Mariusz Treliński put it perfectly when he said:

“The most fascinating and perfidious aspect of this Mozart opera is that it does not talk about love. Logic, detachment and exquisite, calculated charm – so brilliantly incorporated into Mozart’s mathematical score – are the main protagonist’s character traits, determining his uniqueness. Don Giovanni does not love; he seduces.”

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