Oper Lolita in St. Petersburg

The collection of operas by Shchedrin staged at the Mariinsky Theatre will be complete with the addition of Lolita to the repertoire: here all of the maestro’s operas are performed. Written in 1992, the grand opera (the composer’s designation) Lolita has been staged on four occasions: the world premiere took place in Stockholm (1994), subsequently being mounted in Perm (2003), in Wiesbaden in Germany in 2011 and, last year, at the Národní Divadlo (National Theatre) in Prague. The latter production is the one being brought to St Petersburg. “The Prague production is the most successful of all, it ‘hears’ my score,” the composer believes, “and it is also the one that is closest to Nabokov’s novel in as much as, in addition to the plot (which, of course, has been retained), there one may find a thought-provoking accentuation that combines tragedy with tenderness. Nabokov himself called Lolita a book of great pathos and lamented the fact that critics were unable to grasp the tenderness with which it is filled. It is a magical text, in understanding which one cannot limit oneself to the storyline alone. If one clings to the plot, then many novels by Dostoevsky, too, are mere judicial chronicles or detective fiction... The important thing is how it is done, what surrounds it. And that is where the art springs from. The Prague production was achieved specifically with these artistic considerations in mind, and not in order to take and retell this seemingly erotic narrative. And so in it I see and sense a caring attitude to the tragic destinies of its characters.”

Pelageya Kurennaya, who sang the title role in Prague, adds that “Lolita is unlike either A Christmas Tale or The Lefthander, even although at times I can hear some echoes from them. It is an entirely different style, reminiscent of a thriller with elements of mysticism and instances of romance. At the very start of the opera, to Humbert’s words “Lolita, my sin, poor, tormented girl”, the chords sound like stabs to the heart; I hear them with a shudder... The opera has been staged by a fantastic director. Sláva Daubnerová has placed a revolving structure in the centre of the stage, so the scenes run flowingly from one to the next. Dimmed lighting is used, the spotlights are aimed at the protagonists, and everything around them is in some mysterious mist; it turned out to be a kind of 3D opera. Sláva sees Lolita as an angular yet gentle tomboy. For her, everything begins with a game, as she has known no father, she just needed the attention of someone new. In Act I and Act II Lolita appears as two different kinds of music. Initially there is the running and skipping friskiness; in Act II her voice has changed, lyricism has been added, there is cantilena and, at the very end of the opera, there is pain. Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin created characters which are completely different to one another in terms of music. Each has his own characteristic melos: Quilty, Charlotte, Humbert, Lolita... Not stepping back from the novel, the composer brought it into the genre of opera with such incredible talent that it would be impossible to imagine anything better.”

Further performances of the opera will take place on March 14, 2020 and April 22, 2020 in the Mariinsky theatre


Full Score: https://en.schott-music.com/shop/lolita-no166021.html?SID=j79ka1t6r1k4hupuaind1m7h94