NABOKV-L post 0000481, Tue, 14 Feb 1995 07:46:09 -0800

LOLITA-The (Swedish) Opera

And now, Lolita, the opera, in Swedish.

Check out Time Magazine, 13-Feb-95, page 79 for a review of
the work given in Stockholm in December--a rather postive
review except for the libretto and the music. (I guess
that's like saying the meal was great, except for its taste
and smell.)

A Russian composer, Rodion Schedrin, wrote the libretto and
music. "...unfortunately," Michael Walsh, Time's reviewer
says, "the novel has more music on a single page." Walsh
picks on Schedrin's "lazy, impotent score...loutish when it
is not downright sullen," and his "vulgar libretto."

Walsh does credit others, though. "Director Ann-Margret
Pettersson's frankly erotic production is terrific." He
also likes designer John Conklin's work and Lisa
Gustafsson's (age 25; in Lolita productions, you always
have to give the actor's/singer's/dancer's age) soprano

I've learned that Schedrin took VN's Russian Lolita
translation and, assuming (conveniently or not) that it was
in the public domain, extracted passages from it to build a
libretto. I do not know if his Lolita was ever performed
in Russian in public, private or whatever anywhere. In any
case, Schedrin was approached by the director of the Roayl
Opera in Stockholm. This led to a production offer. The
director was, apparently, led to believe that the Russian
work was actually in the public domain. Mstislav
Rostropovich soon somehow got involved. When it was
learned that the Russian work was not in the public domain,
he got Dmitri Nabokov to grant the Royal Opera the right to
perform the work. But with the "stipulation that the opera
may not be sung in any major language such as Russian or
English," as Walsh says. The libretto was then translated
into Swedish and had its known world premier on or about

If anyone knows more about this new episode in the world's
continuing and sometimes elicit affair with VN's favorite
daughter, please let me know or post more at NABOKV-L.

- Michael Juliar
att!mantic!mlj |