I've seen two productions of The Nose
, one at English National Opera some years ago and the other, much more recently, at the Buxton Festival.
I don't regard anything by Shostakovich as atonal (Jon may perhaps wish to correct me). He was a bit of a chameleon and wrote a lot of film music, 15 (I think) symphonies, lots of string quartets. Coincidentally, I'll be going to Manchester next Sunday to see his Paradise Moscow
at the Royal Northern College of Music. Opera North put it on some years ago and I bought the recording - it's more or less an operetta with lots of good tunes. One scene, very reminiscent of the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business
has the neighbours all crowding in to admire a young couple's new apartment to a tune that sounds to me like a polka.
I've also seen his Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
three times. It's a real opera which gets darker and darker but has a number of comedy turns in between.
As for The Nose
, well, it's an absurdist work based on Gogol (I think) and has lots of short scenes. The music isn't particularly memorable but it's well worth seeing. The protagonist's nose is accidentally cut off by his barber and it takes on a life of its own - at one point it becomes a councillor and turns up in church. The chief of police (high tenor, countertenor or soprano!) is on the trail and eventually the nose is returned to its owner. You can read the libretto here: http://web.archive.org/web/20080215065304/http://www.mrichter.com/opera/files/nose.htm