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Operatic Fragment “Orango” by Dmitri Shostakovich Given Swedish Premiere

Dmitri Shostakovich’s operatic fragment “Orango” for soloists, choir and orchestra, rediscovered in 2006, will be given its Swedish premiere at the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm on 22 August 2014, performed by soloists of the Mariinski Theatre, the Mikaeli Chamber Choir, the Gustaf Sjöqvist’s Chamber Choir and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen. The concert is part of the “Baltic Sea Festival” (22 to 30 August 2014).

This fragment consists of parts of a comic opera the existence of which had been completely unknown until 2006. The performance materials for “Orango” were found in the Moscow Shostakovich Archive by the archivist Olga Digonskaïa, who also later located the complete libretto. The musicologist Gerard McBurney worked on the reconstruction of the performing score based on these.

The sketches for the stage work “Orango” date from the year 1932. The subject is based on a story by the Russian science fiction author Alexei Tolstoi and is about an imaginary being – half ape, half human – that has been created as the result of experiments in Soviet laboratories.

In the first act of the opera, Orango is presented to the public and proves himself to be a convincing speaker, but he repeatedly interrupts his statements with apelike screeches. If Shostakovich had completed the work, Orango, according to the libretto, would have advanced to the office of Secretary General of the Communist Party by the end of the opera. This bold sketch was perhaps one reason why Shostakovich abandoned work on this opera and why the manuscript was forgotten.

The piano reduction has been issued by Sikorski Music Publishers as the printed edition SIK DS 205.

22 August 2014
Berwaldhallen, 7:30 PM
Swedish premiere: Dmitri Shostakovich / Gerard McBurney
“Orango”. Prologue for soli, choir and orchestra (operatic fragment)
Soloists of the Mariinski Theatre
Mikaeli Chamber Choir
Gustaf Sjöqvist’s Chamber Choir
Finish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Salonen (direction)


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