A spectacular ‘opera-operation’ about tyranny

Octavia. Trepanation

Boris Yukhananov, Dmitri Kourliandski, Stanislavsky Electrotheatre

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Octavia. Trepanation investigates the bloody mechanisms of the revolution. This opera, which has its world premiere at the Holland Festival, is by composer Dmitri Kourliandski and director Boris Yukhananov, the artistic director of Moscow’s Stanislavsky Electrotheatre. They call it an ‘opera-operation’. On stage stands a giant replica of Lenin's head, the skull of which is being trepanated. Kourliandski's music consists of socialist hymns stretched out in time, texts by the Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky and excerpts from Octavia, a play attributed to Seneca about the Roman emperor Nero. Is art capable of explaining tyranny?

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