Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1932) was more a personal than a political drama. All was well for the first two years after the opera’s première in 1934, but shortly after Stalin went to a performance, it was vigorously condemned in the state press. The pretext was the opera’s music, but it is more likely that the plot and especially the staging offended against the conservative turn in the social morality now promoted by the state. When a revival became possible, Shostakovich chose to rework the opera, renaming it Katerina Izmailova.
Marina Frolova-Walker is Visiting Professor of Russian Music at Gresham College. She is a Russian-born British musicologist and music historian. She is Professor of Music History and Director of Studies in Music at Clare College, Cambridge. She specialises in Russian and Soviet music and has authored several books and a number of academic articles on the subject.