Russian Composer D. Sostakovich Letter Signed Catherine Izmailova Ambassador

Russian Composer D. Sostakovich Letter Signed Catherine Izmailova Ambassador


An ALS in Cyrillic by Dmitri Shostakovich (1905-1973), one page, size 5.25” x 7.25”, dated November 20, 1964, The letter addressed to the Austrian ambassador in Moscow, mentioning that he would be pleased to attend the Vienna State Opera opening of his opera Catherine Izmailov and hopes that a visa may also be arranged for his wife. in overall fine condition. Translation bellow:

Moscow November 20, 1964

To ambassador of Austria to USSR Mr. Vodak


Dear Mr. Vodak! I will be pleased to attend the opening of my opera “Catherina Izmailova” in Vienna It will be great if the Direction of State Opera to inform me about the date of the last reversal as I would like to attend it. My experience shows that it can be benefiting. 

I want to go to Vienna with my wife Irina Antonovna Shostakovich.  

Please, accept my best wishes.      D. Shostakovich


It is hard to name another opera with a fate as complicated and dramatic as that of its heroine. Shostakovich came up with the idea of composing an opera based on Nikolai Leskov's novel Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District, perhaps the most outright and cruel work of the Russian classical literature, in the early 1930s. Finished in 1932, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District (as the opera was originally titled) was staged two years later in Leningrad and then in Moscow caused a heated controversy. Some of the conservative spectators were shocked, but the majority welcomed Shostakovich's work as the first really new word in Soviet and European music theatre. The traditions of Russian opera of the 19th century, the influence of Wagner, Richard Strauss and European avant-garde (especially Alban Berg's Wozzeck staged in Leningrad in 1927) were melted in a creative furnace of the composer's individuality resulting in one of the best operas of the 20th century. 

During two years, it was triumphantly staged in many theatres of the USSR and abroad. However, the opera was condemned after Stalin saw it. "A mess instead of music" - that was a title of a scathing article in the Pravda in January 1936. It marked the beginning of unfounded criticism at Shostakovich for "formalism", while Lady Macbeth was banned from the stage. The ban was lifted as late as in the early 1960s when Shostakovich had realized the second edition of the opera under the name of Katerina Izmailova.

In fact D. Shostakovich was attended rehearsals and performance in Vienna in February 1965.


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