In 1936, Josef Stalin and members of his cabinet walked out of a performance of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Two days later, the Soviet newspaper Pravda began a series of attacks against Shostakovich, criticizing Lady Macbeth for its “primitive and vulgar” style. Remember that back in those days, if you had something bad written about you in Pravda, you were in a heap load of trouble! Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk tells the shocking story of Katerina Ismailova, a woman with a weak husband and an abusive father-in-law. She and her husband’s servant, Sergei, fall so madly in love that they actually join forces and murder Katerina’s husband and her father-in-law. Their crimes are soon discovered, though, and both are sent to a prison in desolate Siberia.