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The Sunday Opera: Dmitri Shostakovich's "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk"

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We take our leave of London’s Royal Opera House on this week’s Sunday Opera (8/8 3:00 p.m.) with their 2018 production of Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.”  Katerina (Eva-Maria Westbroek) is in a loveless marriage with Zinovy (John Daszak) who cannot or will not produce an heir.   Katerina is accosted by Sergey (Brandon Jovanovich) while Zinovy is away for business and reluctantly agrees to have an affair with him.  Sergey is accidentally locked in Katrina’s room and, in the morning, is caught climbing down from Katerina’s window by Boris (Sir John Tomlinson), Zinovy’s father.   Boris whips Sergey, and before he can do it again, Katerina decides to murder Boris by mixing rat poison with the mushrooms she prepares.  Boris dies in agony.  After Zinovy returns, he guesses the truth, but before he can run for help, he is killed by Katerina and Sergey, and his body is placed in the wine-cellar where his body is eventually found.  Katerina and Sergey are sent to a penal colony in Siberia, but Katerina drowns before they board the convict train.   Sir Antonio Pappano conducts.  Stay tuned after the opera when host Michael Kownacky continues with the music of Shostakovich and his highly cinematic Symphony No. 11 subtitled “The Year 1905.”  Although initially written about “Bloody Sunday” when an unarmed group of demonstrators were fired upon and killed as they tried to peacefully deliver a petition to Tsar Nicholas, many see a correlation to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (the same year the symphony was written) where a protest begun by students in response to the Soviet led government escalated to a point where that Hungarian government collapsed, but the new government was short-lived.  Soviet forces invaded later in 1956 where they remained, controlling Hungary, until 1991.   The symphony is performed in this recording by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Mark Wigglesworth.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.