“Lost children”: Shostakovich and lady Macbeth

Paul Edwards*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The multi-vocal nature of operatic narrative-not the narrative of dramatic plot, but the musical narrative that dialogically addresses it-provides a model for the study of narrative dynamics in many kinds of performed texts. Scholars applying Bakhtin ‘s dialogics to Shostakovich’s music have developed a range of approaches (biographical, intertextual, formal) to interpretive problems. Combining these approaches suggests new answers to longstanding questions concerning the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District: questions about the relationship of self-quotation to “public” and “hidden” transcripts; the role of orchestral “narration” informing what one critic calls the “conscience of the tale” the relationship of such narration to extramusical paraphrase; and the ways in which an artist’s “operatic” impulse, following official condemnation and censorship, seeks more acceptable forms of public expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-198
Number of pages42
JournalText and Performance Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1998


  • Dialogism
  • Opera
  • Shostakovich

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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