A wall comes to life. Arms appear in what had seemed like empty black suits hanging on them. The seven actors in the company, in evening dress, whom we’ve seen singing, playing with pieces of paper, join hands with the arms. Together the actors and the limbs on the wall do a kind of Hora. Later, a 17-foot high puppet of a babushka embraces, and menaces, a little clown. The clown is composer Dmitry Shostakovich. It’s like something from Dr. Seuss. It’s like a dream.
Though there are words in Dmitry Krymov’s “Opus No. 7,” both in the first part, titled “Genealogy,” and in the second act titled “Shostakovich,” much of the work’s punch lands through other kinds of theatrical language. Even the title evokes a piece of classical music, and the abstraction of painting.
The number 7 also refers to the seven members of the cast: Maxim Maminov, Mikhail Umanets, Sergey Melkonyan, Arkady Krichenko, Natalia Gorchakova, Maria Gulik and Varvara Voetskova. Krymov said in an email that it is also his favorite number. It is also Krymov’s seventh work. Another notable 7 is that Shostakovich’s seventh symphony was about war, Krymove pointed out.
On October 12, Paris’s Cité de la Musique opened a new exhibit, “Lenin, Stalin, and Music” which includes much fascinating material about the fate, and often the plight, of Russian Jewish musicians.
With the benefit of hindsight it’s difficult to see why any Jews stayed in Soviet Russia. However, a brilliantly concise and well-illustrated exhibition catalog published by Les éditions Fayard accompanies the show, explaining why some gifted Jewish composers such as Maximilian Steinberg and the pianist/composer Samuil Feinberg, at first embraced the opportunities afforded them to create new music in post-Revolutionary Russia.
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