When Barrie Kosky discovered Shostakovich’s first opera The Nose it was “love at first hearing”. He was a student at Melbourne University when he came upon it through his fascination with the work of Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. Having read and relished Gogol’s satirical play The Government Inspector, he quickly moved on to short stories like The Overcoat and The Nose (which was written between 1835 and 1836).

Barrie Kosky. Photo: Jan Windszus

“I’d actually read Gogol’s The Nose before I discovered the opera and then when I discovered there was an opera about it, I was doubly excited,” recalls Kosky. “And then because I love Shostakovich, it was sort of like tick, tick, tick. At that stage I was devouring Shostakovich, all the quartets and all the piano works and all the symphonies, so it was just a love...

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