Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Nose

Shostakovich's opera The Nose plays this Saturday, Oct 26th and runs for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Below are some reviews of the show -- only one of the reviews is from this year's production. The other three reviews are from the 2010 production which is being revived this year.

Mary asked me when is a good time to begin taking kids to the theatre and opera.  I was not sure that Macbeth would be a good introduction to Shakespeare, though I don't know why I hesitated in saying yes, --  take them to Macbeth, since on one hand I think kids see and hear only what they have the intellectual powers to see.

Photographer: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Paulo Szot, with his runaway nose, as Kovalyov.
At any  rate, from my reading of the reviews of The Nose, I think this would be a grand opportunity to take kids -- maybe by giving them a bit of background before they go.  The show is short -- only 2 hours and 15 minutes -- the actual opera even shorter than that, 1 hour and 45 minutes.

I am guessing that Duncan will be going.

I thought I might read the reviews and make up my own set of questions for him  or any of the other grandchildren to answer, either before going, or after seeing the opera.  I think it will be fun.  Tell your mom the answers and then email me for the $10.  Or phone me and I will put your cheque in the mail.

1. Shostakovitch wrote this opera.  Can you spell Shostakovitch.  It is alright to look at this question while you spell it.

2. Kovalyov’s servant, Ivan, sings a song accompanied by balalaikas. What is a balalaika?

3. There will be an interlude for percussion alone.  What will happen in a percussion interlude?

4. Who wrote the original story in 1836 on which Shostakovitch based his opera? (Get one of your parents to give you the answer.)

5. What language was the original story written in?

6. What does "park and bark" mean at  the opera.  You will find the answers at this link:

7.   Dwight Garner says "Major Kovalyov is almost comically loathsome. He sniggers at the poor; he lies about his rank; he brags about his famous friends; he is obsessed with brand names; he treats his underlings as if they were patches of worn carpet; he misses his nose mostly because its lack will prevent his social rise."  The question is, what does snigger mean?

8. Why does Kovalyov miss his nose? (Hint: see question 7.)

9. Ivalyov is obsessed with brand names.  Can you give a brand name?

10. After talking about the opera, make up your own question and see if your mother (or father) can answer it?

11. For a bonus point, Dwight Garner says liiterature is full of louts and twits and bounders and bullies, but Shostakovich must have been aware of that for Gogol’s story features, in the schnozless Major Kovalyov, one of the great literary prigs of all time.  Tell your parent, either what schnozless means, or what being a prig means.

Questions are based on reading the reviews below:

James Oestreich reviews The Nose on October 1, 2013

Three critics for the New York Times discuss the music, art and literary threads of The Nose in 2010.

Anthony Tommasini reviews The Nose in March 2010.

 Matthew Guerwitsch reviews The Nose in February 2010.

And for some visiual fun, try this from utube.  A peek at the dress rehersal.

See you at the opera,


1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    Have been watching a utube show of The Nose -- one hour, 18 minutes. A lot of fun.