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St. Petersburg Composer's Opera Incites Violence

A violent attack on a local composer is the latest in a series of incidents targeting his most recent composition.

Published: August 27, 2014 (Issue # 1826)



  • Ilya Demutsky has been under attack for his new opera ‘New Jerusalem,’ about a group of hunters who search for pedophiles.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

The premiere of a new opera was canceled in St. Petersburg last week after both the refusal of yet another venue to hold it and an assault on the opera’s composer.

Called “New Jerusalem,” the opera composed by award-winning local composer Ilya Demutsky with librettist Artyom Suslov will not premiere in the city due to the worsening political and cultural climate, Demutsky said in an interview with The St. Petersburg Times on Aug. 23.

With its main character a hunter for pedophiles, the opera’s premiere had already been canceled by the Lendoc studios, where it was originally scheduled to be held on Apr. 4 and 5, following reported calls from the police and authorities to the venue’s management. However, a recent physical attack on Demutsky himself came as a total surprise, he said.

According to Demutsky, he was invited via email for an interview allegedly with the Moscow-based liberal television channel Dozhd, but when he arrived to meet a television crew outside the St. Petersburg State Conservatory at 3 p.m. on Aug. 17, he was attacked by a man who emerged from around the corner with a scarf wrapped around his face.

Demutsky said he ran across the square to the Mariinsky Theater to hide inside while the attacker followed him and repeatedly attempted to use a taser on him. A clash between the two then occurred outside the theater, with a window being broken and Demutsky’s wrist cut deeply by a glass shard. The attacker then ran away after the Mariinsky Theater’s security guards ran out of the building.

Following the attack, a note was found on the site saying “Pedophile Ilya. One more opera and you’ll be at the graveyard. Leave for your motherland, for the U.S.”

After reporting the attack to the police, Demutsky received a series of threats via email in which anonymous people demanded that he revoke his report, Vitaly Cherkasov, Demutsky’s lawyer and part of the Agora human rights group, told the media on Monday.

In an interview with The St. Petersburg Times, Demutsky said he suspected that certain officials were behind the attack rather than grassroots Orthodox activists.

Demutsky, 31, became widely known last year after being awarded first prize in a European composition competition, 2 Agosto, and a medal from the president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, for musical work inspired by an imprisoned member of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot. “The Final Statement of the Accused” is a ten-minute piece for mezzo-soprano and orchestra based on Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina’s closing remarks at the controversial Pussy Riot trial in Moscow on Aug. 8, 2012.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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