Looking through a Different Lens, Beyond Censorship: The American Reception of "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District"
Description: The censorship of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District is a familiar story to musicologists, but reception of the opera is not frequently mentioned. Examining the reception of a work can bring a work's relative importance into focus. In this thesis, German literary and reception theorist Hans Robert Jauss's model of the horizon of expectations is applied to reviews of American productions of Lady Macbeth. Curiosity about communism following the Great Depression in 1930s, America and American music critics' knowledge that Soviet composers worked for the Soviet regime led to the belief that Lady Macbeth was officially approved export from the Soviet Union. When the article condemning the opera as a Western formalism appeared in the Soviet magazine, Pravda, Americans needed to adjust their understanding of Lady Macbeth as a socialist expression. Following the work's revival in San Francisco in 1981, the influence of Solomon Volkov's Testimony is prevalent in many reviews. Many reviewers use Volkov's narrative of Shostakovich as covert dissident of the Soviet Union to assert that the censorship of the opera was about the content of the plot and not the music. Following the Soviet rejection of the work, American critics tried to claim Shostakovich for the West based on the values of individual freedom and feminism set forth in Lady Macbeth.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Cassell, Holly Kathleen
Partner: UNT Libraries