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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

According to Demutsky, his new opera deals with a group of hunters for pedophiles not unlike the one led by extreme nationalist Maxim Martsinkevich, also known as Tesak (Hatchet or Hand Axe), who was sentenced to five years for inciting ethnic hatred in Moscow on Aug. 18. Called Occupy Pedophilia, Martsinkevichs group reportedly lured people via fake accounts, set appointments and then tortured and humiliated them on video. The group was reported to also target LGBT people as well.

I did not study the subject and did not watch the videos because theyre revolting and not interesting to me I only used a literary text, the libretto, Demutsky said.

Tesak could probably be seen as the prototype for the main character, but the meaning of the opera is that a hunter for pedophiles kills a pedophile during one of his hunts, and then I raise philosophical, religious, moral and aesthetic issues. Does he have the right to do this? Even if we understand perfectly that pedophilia is a crime, that it is disgusting, does he still have the right to kill a person in the name of some higher purpose? Thats what the opera is about.

According to Demutsky, the controversy and pressure was caused by the phrase hunters for pedophiles, which was used to describe the operas subject, rather than the its actual content.

There is almost no action. There is a brief murder scene in the beginning but without any flesh and blood, he said.

A pedophile is being burnt at the stake and dies singing, but what follows is a dialogue between God and the hunter, where God asks, Did you have the right to do this in My name? Who do you think you are, a doctor or inquisitor? We try to deal with these kind of questions.

Demutsky said poet and theater producer Suslov wrote to him on a social network and offered his libretto for a possible opera in late August 2013 after Demutsky had become known in the media following the success of The Final Statement of the Accused.

Having read the libretto, I understood that it might be interesting on stage, especially because it was well written and dealt with difficult subjects, and I think such things have not yet been done in the opera scene, Demutsky said.

I thought it would be something innovative, not from the point of view of my work as a composer, but of the themes dealt with in the opera. Its in classical form, written in the complex Russian language, in verse, but it has an absolutely contemporary plot. At the same time, it touches on philosophical, ethical and moral issues, and we embody it in music as an opera, with classical beautiful voices in my style, with nothing avant-garde. So I agreed.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Nov. 21


Learn more about Russian labor laws at Labor Law Seminar 2014 at the Courtyard by Marriott St. Petersburg Center West Pushkin Hotel this morning at 166 Kanala Griboyedova. Sponsored by Baker and McKenzie and the Pepeliaev Group, the event begins at 9 a.m. and will discuss amendments to existing laws, employment terms, risks of termination and other pressing matters.


Educate yourself about educational careers at Education and Career XXI November 2014, a two-day fair hosted at Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island that welcomes students and educators alike to develop relationships between scholarly institutions and learn more about the educational market in Russia and abroad.



Saturday, Nov. 22


Russian Premier League-leaders Zenit St. Petersburg return from the international break to take on Kuban Krasnodar at Petrovsky Stadium this evening at 7 p.m. Tickets for the game can still be purchased on the clubs website, at the Petrovsky Stadium box office or in any of the clubs merchandise stores.



Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at todays Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Womens Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the citys international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain. The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their Industrial St. Petersburg Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the Business With China forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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