Boris Godunov/English National Opera
Saturday 07 November 1998
Her first hurdle was which of the labyrinthine versions of the opera to produce. No other first opera which has subsequently been acknow- ledged as a masterpiece has probably ever been created with such meagre composi- tional experience and against such a negative cultural background. The composer was the archetypal glorious amateur. He resigned an important commission in the Russian Guards in his mid-twenties to devote himself to music. That said, only a handful of "promising" songs had flowed from his pen by the time, a few years later, he decided to condense Pushkin's epic verse drama from 25 scenes to a mere seven, rewriting considerably in the process.
The premiere was largely greeted with total incom- prehension, so Mussorgsky set about revising, adding an entirely new act as well as solidifying some of the more open harmonies. Even though that version met with greater acclaim, it still didn't become a repertory classic. After Mussorgsky's premature (and alcohol-related) death at the age of 42, Rimsky-Korsakov took it upon himself to re-orchestrate it yet again, although for the last 30 years or so the tendency has been to go back to Mussorgsky's own thoughts.
For this new ENO production Zambello and conductor Paul Daniel return to the first seven-scene concoction, with the addition of an eighth scene - the last of all (in the revision) which opens up the action again to embrace the Russian people beyond the earlier and rather bald ending of Boris's death.
The chosen version is by far the most streamlined one, seamlessly taking the story of the dastardly Tsar through the last and increasingly turbulent years of his barbaric reign. A magnificent cast has been assembled, which includes the voices of Robert Tear, Mark Le Brocq and Roberto Salvatori, all spearheaded by the stentorian tones and massive stage presence of bass-baritone John Tomlinson as Boris. With the likes of Hildegard Bechtler on sets, Nicky Gillibrand on costumes and Wolfgang Gobbel on lighting, this is also a world-class production dream team. A still fondly remembered Khovanshchina... four years on can Zambello weave the same magic on Boris Godunov? Probably.
London Coliseum, London WC2 (0171-632 8300) Wed, 7.30pm
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
- 5 Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
Game of Thrones season 4 blooper reel unveiled at Comic-Con 2014
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Doctor Who series 8: Watch Peter Capaldi in new ‘Listen!’ teaser trailer
Coolio has sold his soul to Pornhub
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace