Shostakovich: Katerina Ismailova (In German) - Dvorakova, Stolze, Schöffler; Krombholc. Wien, 1965
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When Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk premiered it was a huge success with the public, but the very graphic depictions of sex and violence were too much for Joseph Stalin leading to a public rebuke in Pravda accusing Shostakovich of formalism. The whole situation rattled Shostakovich so much that he never wrote another opera. That was truly one of the great tragedies of twentieth century opera since Shostakovich was a natural opera composer. The title character Katerina, a bored housewife whose desire for love leads her into an intractable snare of murder, somehow always manages to remain sympathetic even in the face of her crimes. This performance uses the 1962 revised version entitled Katerina Ismailova. Ludmila Dvorakova is perfectly cast in the title role and effortlessly meets the dramatic demands of the piece without sacrificing the pristine sheen of her Slavic soprano. Gerhard Stolze has a hard time conveying the masculine swagger of Sergei, but still seems to relish playing the “bad boy”. Paul Schöffler, although well passed his prime, does well as the aristocratic brute, Boris. The sound is good, although there is some digital interference in the orchestral interlude in Act II.