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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

The Idiot, by Mieczysław Weinberg

Bogdan Volkov

Aug 2–23, 2024

Underappreciated in his lifetime and little remembered today, the Polish-born Soviet composer Mieczysław Weinberg (1919–96) ranks with his champions as the third in a troika with Prokofiev (1891–1953) and Shostakovich (1906–75). Like those other two, Weinberg had a gift for eloquent melody, striking harmonies, and rhythm that gets under the skin. His opera The Passenger (1968), memorializing the historic journalist and Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz, received its semistaged posthumous premiere in 2006 and its first full production only in 2010. His seventh and final opera The Idiot, after Dostoevsky, went unheard and unseen until emerging in Germany at the National Theatre Mannheim in 2013. The Bolshoi, in Moscow, gave it a spin in 2017. But the Salzburg production, conducted by the committed Weinberg champion Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, could be the one that at last puts it on the map. How well the video-mad hotshot Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski will serve the tale is another question. The tenor Bodgan Volkov, born in the Donetsk region of Ukraine and trained in Kiev, sings Prince Myshkin, an innocent who sees past guile and façades into people’s tattered souls. —Matthew Gurewitsch

Photo: © Monika Rittershaus

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