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