Music: Vissarion Shebalin
Libretto: Abram Gozenpud after William Shakespeare’s comedy of the same name
Music Director and Conductor: Dmitri Jurowski
Author of artistic concept and Chief Stage Conductor: Irina Gaudasinskaya
Production Designer: Timur Gulyaev
Lighting Designer: Igor Yakushev
Stage Movement: Olga Danilova-Pavlova
Assistants to Stage Director: Igor Bondarenko, Nikolai Natsybulin
2 hours 30 minutes
Vissarion Shebalin’s The Taming of the Shrew is one of the best lyric-comic operas of the XX century. Based on the renowned comedy of the same name by the famous British playwright William Shakespeare (1593), this opera reveals the true depth and integrity of love, showing the beauty and dignity of a human being in its entirety.
The plot circles around two characters: young and proud-hearted Katharina and Petruchio. Both of them have unconventional personalities outmatching their contemporaries spiritually and mentally. Katherina is a marriageable daughter. Her father is actively looking for suitors, but none seem to match her temper. Hidden under the cloak of shrewishness is her craving for true love and female dignity. Petruchio, in his turn, is a brave and courageous adventurer, audacious in his decisions. At first, he only sees a fortune in Katherina, but later on, as the protagonists pass all the trials, they find themselves deeply in love with each other.
The Taming of the Shrew is the only opera written by Vissarion Shebalin (1902-1963). The concept was conceived during the war in Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg), where the composer was removed in 1941. The libretto was composed by a literary scholar Abram Gozenpud, who was back then employed at the Sverdlovsk State Academic Theater of The Musical Comedy. Gozenpud used to work as a translator of Shakespeare’s work, which benefited the libretto – he was able to preserve the traits and the spirit of the Shakespearian comedy. Shebalin was fond of the libretto, however the music score couldn’t keep up with it, the opera was finished only by 1955. The Taming of the Shrew first premiered in 1955. It was a concert version, performed by the Soviet Opera Ensemble of the USSR Theatrical Society. The full theatrical version premiered on 25 May 1957 in Kuybyshev (now Samara). The Bolshoi Theatre staged the production just a month later, and then the opera travelled to Leningrad, Kyiv and many other international venues.