Met at the Movies preview: Shostakovich's 'The Nose'

Inventive 2010 production gets a 2013 revival, simulcast live, October 26. Repeat Oct. 30. Photo: NY Metropolitan Opera/Ken Howard

NEW YORK, October 23, 2013 – The New York Metropolitan Opera’s simulcast series ‘Live in HD’ continues at select big screen theaters across the country this Saturday, October 26 with a production of Dmitri Shostakovich’s satirical opera “The Nose.” 

The William Kentridge production—which initially dazzled Met audiences in 2010 during the opera’s very first performances here—is currently being reprised at the Lincoln Center with the Met’s original lead, Paulo Szot, reprising his role as the hapless Russian bureaucrat Kovalyov, whose nose leaves his face to take on an identity of its own. 

Valery Gergiev, conductor of the Met’s brilliant “Eugene Onegin” simulcast earlier this fall, is once again at the podium for this HD broadcast, which will be shown on screen Saturday afternoon, October 26, at 12:55 p.m. EDT. 

Shostakovich experienced his usual artistic and political challenges when he tried to mount the premiere of his new opera, “The Nose,” which was based on Gogol’s satirical tale of Kovalyov’s rogue nose, a premise as darkly absurd as any weird tale ever concocted by Franz Kafka, that acknowledged master of the bizarre. 

A typical Shostakovich musical mix of atonality, Russian folk motifs and traditional and extended harmonies, the opera naturally displeased the then-Soviet Union’s ultra-traditionalists who preferred all things musical just as long as the score hewed to 19th century Russian Romantic tradition. 

After an ill-advised concert performance of the opera in 1929 led to a predictable government attack, “The Nose” had to await its full-dress premiere in 1930 but still weathered yet another bout of official criticism before vanishing from the opera scene presumably forever. 

SEE RELATED: The Met’s riveting ‘Eugene Onegin’ simulcast

Times were and are prone to change, however. In 1974, after Gennady Rozhdestvensky discovered a copy of this nearly lost opera hidden away somewhere in the Bolshoi Theatre, leading to what amounted to its second Russian premiere in 1974 which the aging composer himself was able to attend. 

It took twenty-four more years for “The Nose” to get its east-coast U.S. professional premiere, when current Washington National Opera artistic director Francesca Zambello directed a new production at Bard College’s SummerScape series in 2004. 

Opera Boston (2009) and the Met (2010) have picked up the baton recently, and the popularity of the Met production has led to this season’s reprise.

That makes this upcoming simulcast very likely the first opportunity ever for many opera aficionados to see and hear this unusual opera by an acknowledged 21st century master, so tickets are likely to sell at a brisk clip. 

SEE RELATED: Washington National Opera’s spectacular, uneven ‘Force of Destiny’

For local ticket prices and information, including which theaters and sites across the country will be showing “The Nose” simulcast, visit

At least two local theaters in the Washington, D.C. Metro area—the Mazza Gallerie theater complex in Northwest DC and AMC Tysons 16 in Northern Virginia—will be showing the opera, which clocks in at roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes’ running time.

Again, the date is October 26, 2013 with a virtual curtain time of 12:55 p.m. EDT. 

For those unable to catch the simulcast, an encore rebroadcast of this live event will occur at many participating theaters on October 30, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. local time. (Correcting an earlier version of this article.)

For a sampling of “The Nose,” check out the Met video clip below.


Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.


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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  



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