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Kirill Serebrennikov stages Shostakovich’s “The Nose” in Munich

Only two years ago, the artistic director of the Hamburg Schauspielhaus Karin Beier restaged Dmitri Shostakovich’s opera “The Nose” at the Hamburg State Opera. The play about collegiate assessor Kovalev whose nose leaves him overnight to become an independent person, offers many possibilities for illustrative stage and scenic effects. However, this material can also be easily transferred to different historical contexts, with parallels to the Soviet Union, for example, being particularly popular. “The Nose” always contains an additional political meta-level, rapidly transforming the grotesque into bitter seriousness. Karin Beier took this path in Hamburg implementing many illustrative and stage-effect means. 

Now we can look forward to seeing how the great Russian stage and film director Kirill Serebrennikov himself tackles Shostakovich’s brilliantly entertaining early work. The premiere of his production is coming up on 24 October 2021 at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Kirill Serebrennikov is in the spotlight having become a victim of state persecution due of his dissident behaviour. In February, Serebrennikov’s contract as director was not renewed at the Gogol Centre in Moscow, a venue particularly popular with young people. Theatres and opera houses in the West, such as the Munich State Opera, have given the director, now a cult figure, directing assignments Serebrennikov is happy to fulfil.

We had the exclusive opportunity to interview Kirill Serebrennikov about his Munich production of the opera “The Nose”: 

Gogol’s “The Nose” and Shostakovich’s early opera adaptation are a temptation to stage the play also with Russia’s current politics in mind. How do you deal with this in Munich?

Kirill Serebrennikov: “I prefer not to make a self-interpretation. It’s probably a job for the audience to find the parallels with their own reality.” 

In practical terms, how will directing in Munich work out for you under the current conditions? 

“Probably you know that I have already made several performances in Opernhaus Zürich, Staatsoper Hamburg and Wiener Staatsoper under the same conditions and circumstances. But I hope this time it will be much easier, because most of the singers involved are supposed to come to Russia for the rehearsal period as well as Maestro Jurowski, who will also be in Moscow with me.”

How much irony is contained in Shostakovich’s music?

“As Shostakovich was rather young while writing this opera, I find that it is really full of  punk, irony  and  energy,  I’d  like  to  say that sometimes it sounds quite rock-n-rollish!  I like this music a lot and I’m very much looking forward to the rehearsals of this amazing opera.”

Premeire Dmitri Shostakovich
“The Nose”
Bavarian State Orchestra
Kirill Serebrennikov, director; conductor: Vladimir Jurowski

Photo of Kirill Serebrennikov: © Ira Polyarnaya

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