3. Boris Godunov

The history of Mussorgsky’s only completed opera is a bit(?) complicated. His first version (1869) was rejected by the powers that be because there were no major female roles in the work; so the composer set to and, by 1872, had produced a version complete not only with a significant part (Marina) for mezzo-soprano but additionly several other female-voiced characters had been given extra material. This version passed muster and was duly performed – but in a very much butchered version – in the Mariinsky Theatre in January 1874.

But the story doesn’t end there: after the composer’s death, Rimsky-Korsakov, feeling that the orchestration could be improved and that some of the harmonic ‘infelicities’ of the score should be ironed out, produced, in 1896 and 1908 respectively, not one but two ‘corrected’, re-vamped and re-orchestrated versions of the work both of which omitted some of Mussorgsky’s original music, and it’s the 1908 Rimsky-Korsakov revision that was performed for most of the twentieth century.

Then there’s a Shostakovich version based on the original vocal score…

This is the complete(?) opera, with subtitles, in the 1908 Rimsky-Korsakov iteration:

Grigory Otrepyev (False Dimitrii) – VLADISLAV PIAVKO
Marina Mnishek – IRINA ARKHIPOVA
Prince Shuiskii – ANDREY SOKOLOV
Tsarevich Fyodor – GLAFIRA KOROLEVA
Tsarevna Xenia – GALINA KALININA
Father Varlaam – ARTUR EIZEN


15:05 – The Coronation Scene (Red Square; Godunov, boyars, chorus – Сцена коронации)
19:22 – My soul is sad… (Monologue of Godunov- Скорбит душа…)
24:21 – One more, the final record, and my annals are ended… (Chudov Monastery; Pimen, Grigory – Еще одно, последнее сказанье)
40:27 – The Inn Scene (Lithuanian Border; the Innkeeper, Grigory, Varlaam – Cцена в корчме)
1:01:11 – The Scene in the Tsar’s Palaces (Godunov, Fyodor, Xenia, the Nurse, Shuiskii – Сцена в царских палатах)
1:11:33 – I have achieved supreme power… (Monologue of Godunov – Достиг я высшей власти…)
1:30:34 – The Polish Scene (Castle of Voevoda Mniszech; Grigory, Marina, chorus – Польские картины)
1:49:26 – The Holy Fool Scene (Square before a Cathedral in Moscow; Godunov, The Holy Fool, chorus – Сцена c Юродивым)
1:59:19 – The Scene in the Forest (Varlaam, Misail, Grigory, chorus – Сцена в лесу)
2:16:37 – The Death of Tsar Boris (The Kremlin; Godunov, Shuiskii, Fiodor, chorus – Смерть Царя Бориса)
2:30:58 – Farewell, my son, I am dying… (The final monologue of Godunov – Прощай, мой сын, умираю я…)

And this is the first two acts (no subtitles, sorry!) of Mussorgsky’s own 1872 revision:

Orchestra and Chorus of The Kirov Opera,
conducted by Valery Gergiev
Stage director – Andrei Tarkovsky

Robert Lloyd – Boris Godunov
Olga Borodina – Marina
Alexei Steblianko – Dmitri
Sergei Leiferkus – Rangoni
Alexander Morosov – Pimen
Mikhail Kit – Shchelkalov
Yevgeny Boitsov – Shuisky
Vladimir Ognovenko – Varlaam
Igor Yan – Missail
Ludmila Filatova – Hostess
Larissa Dyatkova – Feodor
Olga Kondina – Xenia
Evgenia Perlassova – Mamka
Grigori Karasyov – Mitiukha
Evgeny Fedotov – Nikitch
Vladimir Solodovnikov – Simpleton

Prologue: Scene I 2:00;
Scene II 19:06
Act I: Scene I 27:08; Scene II 49:44;
Act II 1:09:30

Here you can view the Royal Opera House production (Mussorgsky, combined 1869/1872 (I think!)) with Bryn Terfel (and subtitles):

ROH Boris

Rimsky-Korsakov vocal score (German & English)

| Act 1 | Act 2 | Act 3 | Act 4