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Music Text

Libretto by Nikolai Aseyev (R)


S,4T,Bar,3B; SATB chorus

This work is represented by Boosey & Hawkes in the UK, British Commonwealth (excluding Canada), Republic of Ireland, mainland China, Korea and Taiwan

Abbreviations (PDF)

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the UK, countries of the Commonwealth (excluding Canada) and the Republic of Ireland.

For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.

World Premiere
Leningrad Conservatory Bolshoi Hall, Leningrad
Leningrad Conservatory / Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Repertoire Note

Popular music was always a big part of Shostakovich's work. In 1932 he decided to try his hand at operetta. The project was abanadoned shortly after he started and all that survives are these nine numbers from the first act. They are enough to show us that 'The Great Lightning' would have been a sparkling and satirical piece about the visit of a Soviet delegation to a corrupt Western capitalist country.

This surviving music shows the young Shostakovich in his most light-hearted mood. It is full of deft parodies and catchy tunes that vividly evoke the popular songs and dances of the 1920s and '30s. The final item is a purely instrumental number, a lively procession of dancing models down the catwalk in a fashion show. The whole sequence lasts only just over a quarter of an hour, and would make a charming addition to a concert of light-music favourites.

Note by Gerard McBurney

Recommended Recording

Vsevolod Grivnov/Dmitry Fadeyev/Oleg Dolgov/Andrei Baturkin/Tatiana Sharova/Anatoly Safiulin/Russian State Symphony Orchestra and Cappella/Valery Polyansky
Chandos CHAN 9522

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