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Opera North's new production of the Shostakovitch musical
at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, UK.

PATRIC STANDFORD was at the first night: 3 May 2001


For lovers of grand (and even less than grand) opera, as well as symphonies, oratorios and string quartets, something has to make 'light' music respectable before it can be worth the outing. Sadly for many composers of exquisite and clever light music, what excites the curiosity of the public is the name of a 'serious' composer associated with a foray into lighter territory. Only then can we appreciate the craftsmanship needed to be light, and perhaps the ease with which many less talented composers can be 'serious'.

But Shostakovitch is a master of both. His sardonic wit communicates equally well to both sides of an audience divided between those who think his entertainment music clever, tolerable fun and those who appreciate its skilful manufacture and malicious jokes.

By the time Shostakovitch put together his musical comedy Moscow Cheryomushki in 1958, Stalin was dead and Kruschev was reconstructing Moscow with the help of corrupt architects and builders, filling the suburbs with huge concrete apartment blocks which promised a new paradise for people living in overcrowded city slums. But this new paradise had no shops or public transport and maybe the old city hell had advantages after all over the quickly crumbling rubbish filled towers.

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Copyright © 10 May 2001 Patric Standford, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK




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