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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

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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