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Classical Notes

The church vs. Shostakovich

Posted at 4:54 PM on October 5, 2006 by Don Lee

More than 30 years after his death, Dmitri Shostakovich’s art still faces censure in his homeland. Today’s New York Times reports that members of the Russian Orthodox Church have taken issue with his fairy-tale opera Balda.

There’s some irony here. The church objects to elements of the story (originally by Pushkin) that depict a priest as greedy and lazy. In the 1930s, authorities in Stalin’s regime approved of that portrayal but famously rebuked Shostakovich for another opera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

More irony: the two operas are paired on a new CD. You can read a review by Julie Amacher here.