Skip to Content
Total duration 3 h 15 min
1 intermission (25 min)
8 performances
27.1.2017 – 24.2.2017
Main Stage
15-129 €
Performed in Russian
Subtitles in Finnish, Swedish and English

A powerful piece of music theatre

Mtsenskin kihlakunnan Lady Macbeth

Shostakovich’s powerful drama arrives at the FNO in a production acclaimed in Oslo and Berlin. Emotions flare high in an opera where a yearning for love leads Katerina to murder and death. The action is set at a remote fish-processing plant, somewhere lonely and far away. The ruggedly beautiful sets and strong characterisation make this an enormously powerful piece of music theatre.

A co-production of the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet and the Deutsche Oper Berlin

Photos: Erik Berg / The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet

Please note that the sound volume in this performance is at times very loud


The opera that changed a composer’s life

The premiere of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in Leningrad on 22 January 1934 was a resounding success. The composer, Shostakovich, only 28 years old, was a genius and hailed as a hero.

But all this changed on 28 January 1935 with the publication in Pravda of the now notorious editorial ‘Muddle instead of music’. It declared: “From the first minute, the listener is shocked by deliberate dissonance, by a confused stream of sound. Snatches of melody, the beginnings of a musical phrase, are drowned, emerge again, and disappear in a grinding and squealing roar.” If this had been written by a music critic, the composer could have safely ignored it. But as the editorial was unsigned, it had obviously been penned by Stalin himself. And in the blink of an eye the hero became an enemy of the people.

Stalin’s lambasting of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth must have been the most influential single newspaper article in the history of opera. Had it not been for Stalin, Shostakovich would most probably have gone on to write many more operas that would undoubtedly have entered the core 20th-century opera repertoire. Both The Nose and Lady Macbeth are without question masterpieces and demonstrate that opera would have been a genre where Shostakovich would have felt eminently at home.

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

”I slept at night, I got up, I had tea with my husband, then I went to sleep again. I have nothing else to do. O God, what boredom. It was better before. Although I lived in poverty, I was free.”

– Katerina Izmailova at the beginning of the opera


Katerina is married to Zinovi in the middle of nowhere and is pining away. She falls in love with Sergei, a farmhand, and when Katerina’s father-in-law finds out, he has Sergei flogged. Katerina takes revenge by poisoning her father-in-law. Soon Zinovi too is killed, and Katerina and Sergei are free to marry. In the middle of the wedding, Zinovi’s body is discovered, and Katerina and Sergei are dispatched to Siberia. On the way, Serge falls in love with another prisoner, Sonyetta. Katerina throws her into the water, and they both drown.

More information in the program booklet.


Creative team

Dmitri Shostakovits
Oleg Caetani
Ole Anders Tandberg
Erlend Birkeland
Maria Geber
Lighting design
Ellen Ruge
Jeanette Langert


Katerina ismailova
Svetlana Sozdateleva
Alexey Kosarev
Boris ismailov
Alexander Teliga
Pauliina Linnosaari
Coachman, drunken guest
Mikko Sateila
Chief of police
Heikki Aalto
Juha Riihimäki
Niina Keitel
An old convict
Esa Ruuttunen
Woman convict
Anna-Kristiina Kaappola


3 h 15 min
1 intermission (25 min)
8 performances
27.1.2017 – 24.2.2017
Main Stage
15-129 €
Performed in Russian
Subtitles in Finnish, Swedish and English
Fri 27.1.2017
at 19:00
Wed 1.2.2017
at 19:00
Fri 3.2.2017
at 19:00
Thu 9.2.2017
at 19:00
Sat 11.2.2017
at 14:00
Wed 15.2.2017
at 19:00
Tue 21.2.2017
at 19:00
Fri 24.2.2017
at 19:00

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

Watch online

Live stream from Finnish National Opera starts on Friday 24th of February at 6.50 PM (Finnish time).

A co-production of the Finnish Broadcast Company and Finnish National Opera.

Order refreshments here

Afternoon Tea

Sweet and savoury for the season

See what you like: choose your favourites on this season’s rich menu.

Book your refreshments beforehand online or at the Opera Restaurant sales desk; you will have a much wider range to choose from, and you will not have to queue in the interval. Download the seating plan of the Opera Restaurant (PDF).

Opera Restaurant sales desk
Tel. +358 9 4030 2377 on weekdays 09.00–11.00 and 12.00–16.00
Service desk beside the box office in the Opera House foyer on the Töölönlahti side open from Tuesday to Friday 12.00–16.00