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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 operas 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 operas 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 venues 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 Demutskys wrist cut deeply by a glass shard. The attacker then ran away after the Mariinsky Theaters security guards ran out of the building.

Following the attack, a note was found on the site saying Pedophile Ilya. One more opera and youll 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, Demutskys 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 Alyokhinas closing remarks at the controversial Pussy Riot trial in Moscow on Aug. 8, 2012.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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