Magazine April 5, 2010, Issue

A Nose, a Scot, and a Hun

Samuel Ramey, bass, bishop, and critic (Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

New York has offered some interesting musical evenings of late, as it usually does. In fact, that is one of its jobs. The Metropolitan Opera staged two little-known works by very well-known composers. Carnegie Hall had a concert featuring a new chamber piece by an amazing, iconoclastic Scotsman. Shall we go to the opera first?

For the first time, the Met staged The Nose, an opera by Shostakovich. The composer wrote it in 1928, when he was 22. His source is the short story by Gogol, written in the 1830s. A minor official, Kovalyov, wakes up one morning to find his

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