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Work of the Week – Rodion Shchedrin: Lolita

Rodion Shchedrin’s opera Lolita opens at the Estates Theatre in Prague on 3 October in what will be the opera’s first Czech production. The new production will be directed by Sláva Daubnerová and conducted by Sergey Neller. Following the first night there will be eight more performances in Prague until 10 January 2020.

The opera, which takes its title from the famous novel by Vladimir Nabokov, is Shchedrin’s fifth stage work inspired by Russian literature. Shchedrin himself compiled the opera’s libretto from the novel using music and dramaturgy to navigate the various layers of motivations that exist between the characters.

Rodion Shechdrin – Lolita: Opera inspired by Russian literature

Lolita follows Humbert Humbert who upon meeting 12-year-old Dolores develops a infatuation with her and gives her the nickname Lolita. In order to get  closer to Lolita, Humbert marries the girl’s mother, but when she dies shortly afterwards he embarks on an increasingly fraught relationship with the girl. Their relationship eventually ends and three years later Humbert meets Lolita again, now married to another man and expecting a baby. Lolita reveals to Humbert that when she left him she stayed with a friend of her mother’s, a playwright named Quilty, who tried to make her perform in his erotic films. Enraged by Lolita’s confession, Humbert finds Quilty and murders him before allowing himself to be arrested by the police.

To only repeat what others already did before will be boring for the listener. You have to hold the listener, give them something new and fresh. That is a very difficult task but that should be the goal in ideal circumstances for everyone dedicating oneself to composing. – Rodion Shchedrin

Audiences will have further opportunities to hear Shchedrin’s music this year, including performances of Two Tangos by Albéniz with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Centre Concert Hall, Washington DC on 7 and 9 November, as well as Beethovens Heiligenstädter Testament in Berlin on 28 November with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.

Foto: Royal Opera Stockholm