Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
(Katerina Ismailova)

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Music:Dmitri Shostakovich
Libretto:Shostakovich and Alexander Preis, based on the story by N. Leskov
Premiere:Leningrad, January 22, 1934

Stalinists denounced Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk after a few performances for being too modern, and the opera almost disappeared from the stage. Katerina Ismailova, the heroine, is bored and unhappy with her husband, Zinovy, and intensely dislikes her father-in-law Boris, who in turn suspects her of wanting to have an affair. Zinovy hires the flirtatious Sergei, who immediately begins seducing Katerina, but Boris catches the pair and orders Sergei to be flogged. Katerina vengefully poisons Boris and continues her passionate affair with Sergei until Zinovy surprises the lovers together. To keep their secret, the pair murder Zinovy, bury his body in the cellar and prepare to wed. But at the lovers' wedding feast, the body is discovered. Katerina and Sergei are arrested and sentenced to a convict gang, where Sergei woos saucy Sonyetka. Overwhelmed with jealousy and misery, Katerina leaps from a bridge into the river, taking Sonyetka with her.

Sources +