Set in a claustrophobic Siberian prison, David Pountney’s production of From the House of the Dead is a compelling collage of the in-mates’ stories as they recount why they ended up in jail. During a time of political oppression, each individual tale explores the extremes a person will go to, to right a wrong. A glimmer of hope takes the form of a great eagle that the prisoners painstakingly nurse back to health, a symbol of Russia but also of freedom itself.
Janácek based both the music and the libretto on the semi-autobiographical recollections of Russian writer Dostoyevsky, who himself only survived the firing squad as a result of a last minute reprieve from the Tsar. On stage we’re following the story of a number of characters through an ensemble cast and chorus, but the true protagonist is the WNO Orchestra, conducted by WNO’s new Music Director Tomáš Hanus.
Sung in English with surtitles in English and Welsh.