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While to his own surprise and to his wife’s chagrin, the barber Ivan Yakovlevich finds a nose in the bread dough one fine morning, which he quickly tries to get rid of again, the collegiate assessor Platon Kuzmich Kovalyov notices after a boozy night that he has lost his nose. In a panic, he begins hunting for the runaway body part. A prolonged noselessness would mean his social death! He believes to have spotted his nose at a funeral service at the cathedral but he can’t convince it to stay with him.
As in a dark nightmare, Kovalyov chases after his rebellious olfactoryorgan, but the police is notably absent and at the news desk where he wants to book an advertisement he is met with nothing but scorn and derision. He laments his fate in desperation.
Through this hunt for the nose, a motley crew of people mutates intoa hysterical mob, which finally succeeds in determining the fugitive’s whereabouts. The police inspector himself delivers it to the overjoyed collegiate assessor, but – oh my! – the defiant hooter doesn’t want to stay put. Kovalyov believes he was bewitched by Pelagia Grigorievna Podtochina, who considers Kovalyov a good catch for her daughter. He immediately writes her a reproachful letter. Upset by these allegations, Madame Podtochina rejects them in her response.
As suddenly as the nose had vanished it unexpectedly returns to its place.
Finally, Kovalyov can freely show himself in public again. He meets withPodtochina and her daughter, and imagines how he is once again going to flirt with the ladies. Now that everything is back in its place – hopefully …
Dmitri D. Shostakovich
Opera in three acts based on the story of the same name by Nikolai W. Gogol 
As Don Giovanni, he played the evil, exalted clown; as the young Onegin, he poisoned his own luck in love – now ensemble member Günter Papendell reveals another facet to his skill: as the vain, noseless collegiate assessor Kovalev in Dmitri Shostakovich’s idiosyncratic musical adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s grotesque and absurd story. Following its run in Sydney, Barrie Kosky’s celebrated début production at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden is now coming to Berlin.
One beautiful morning after a night of drinking, the collegiate assessor Kovalev discovers to his horror that he has lost his nose. He despairingly sets off in search of it. Permanent noselessness would mean social ruin for him! He believes he has encountered his nose in the cathedral, yet cannot persuade it to remain with him. Mocked and derided by all, Kovalev chases the suddenly independent bodypart as if in a nightmare, yet never gets his hands on it. His nose is finally returned to him in person by the Chief of Police – yet it does not want to stay on his face! After another series of humiliating experiences, the stubborn facial protrusion returns to its proper place as suddenly as it disappeared – where it will hopefully stay.
Tap-dancing noses, riding rickshaw tables, colourful costumes somewhere between folklore and historicism in a cold room which, despite its size, seems claustrophobic – Barrie Kosky stages the surreal story about the fear of loss and the paranoia of a small-minded upstart as a revue-like kaleidoscope of vanities, a disturbing blend of Wozzeck and Alice in Wonderland.
Libretto by Dmitri D. Shostakovich, Yevgeny I. Zamyatin, Georgy D. Ionin and Aleksander G. Preis
German translation by Ulrich Lenz
A co-production with The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Opera Australia and the Teatro Real, Madrid