Life with an Idiot

Life with an Idiot
Opera by Alfred Schnittke
Alfred Schnittke 1934-1998.jpg
The composer
Native title
Жизнь с идиотом
LibrettistViktor Erofeyev
13 April 1992 (1992-04-13)
Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam

Life with an Idiot (Russian: Жизнь с идиотом, Zhizn s idiotom ) is an opera by the Russian composer Alfred Schnittke to a Russian libretto by Viktor Erofeyev. An allegory of Soviet oppression,[1] the opera was first performed at Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam, on 13 April 1992.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast
Conductor: Mstislav Rostropovich
I baritones Dale Duesing/Romain Bischoff
Wife soprano Teresa Ringholz
Vova tenor Howard Haskin
Guard bass Leonid Zimnenko
Marcel Proust baritone Robbin Leggate


Act One

As a punishment for not working hard enough, "I" is forced by the authorities to live with an idiot. He chooses Vova from a lunatic asylum. Vova is only capable of speaking a single word: "Ech".

Act Two

At first Vova behaves well but then he suddenly begins to make a nuisance of himself, including tearing up I's wife's copy of the works of Marcel Proust. I and his wife go to live in another room and Vova calms down. I's wife falls in love with Vova and becomes pregnant by him. Then Vova and I turn on the wife. Vova kills her and I becomes an idiot.


  • Life with an Idiot (live recording of premiere cast), Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Rostropovich (Sony)


  1. ^ Penguin, p. 382.


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