Opera: Maturing in Moscow

Whenever Joseph Stalin saw an opera that wasn't Eugene Onegin he went home mad, but rarely as mad as he was the night he saw Dmitry Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. "Gnashing and screeching, crude, primitive, vulgar," Pravda roared, having prudently reconsidered a published opinion that called the opera "a triumph" after its 1934 debut two years before. Shostakovich withdrew the opera, and off and on over the years, he set to work at revision.

It was generally assumed that the changes he was making would be pitifully political. But...

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