The opera “Boris Godunov” was a revolutionary folk drama in the art of opera.

The work of the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky amazes with its boldness, breadth and contrasting images of the tsar and the people, who seem to be set against each other. The opera received its recognition only forty years after its birth.

Creating the opera “Boris Godunov”

Modest Mussorgsky got the idea of writing an opera based on the tragedy written by the Russian poet and writer Alexander Pushkin in 1868 thanks to his friend – Professor Nikolsky. The libretto was created by the composer himself, and he only slightly shortened and edited it. Already in the autumn of 1870 the score of the opera was presented to the directorate of the Imperial Theatres, but did not receivean approval. The next two years Mussorgsky worked on editing the opera. But the second version also did not satisfy the directorate –the music broke the canons of classic opera that existed in those days.

About the opera “Boris Godunov”

Musical dramaturgy of “Boris Godunov” is based on uniting the action with the music, on detailed images of the characters. Vocal parts that are similar to peasant folk songs were not in line with the traditional perception of opera.

The main character of “Boris Godunov” is people that are given a whole new meaning by Mussorgsky. Previously, it used to be portrayed as an indivisible mass. But Mussorgsky created a new generalized image that was combined from the individual types.

Production of the opera

Boris Godunov

Boris Godunov. Sergey (CC flickr)

Only in 1874 at the insistence of the Mariinsky Theatre prima Julia Platonova, who wanted to include the opera into her benefit, the opera was staged and showed almost completely, except for one scene. The first premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre was a resounding success with the public, but not the critics. Pyotr Tchaikovskyeven called the work of a self-taught musician – Mussorgsky did not attend a conservatory – vulgar. The opera was on for a few seasons, but then it was excluded from the repertoire, which, according to rumors, was caused by the discontent of the royal family.

After the composer’s death his records got to the hands of Rimsky-Korsakov, who thought to make a new edition of “Boris Godunov.” The new version produced in 1898 was well accepted by the audience. The premiere of the opera “Boris Godunov” in Paris during the “Russian Seasons” in 1908 ensured the recognition of the opera worldwide.

Video (!):

Despite the rather difficult stage life of the opera “Boris Godunov”, this music work by Modest Mussorgsky is in tune with the problems of today, which may explain the current popularity of opera.

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