Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov
NOTE: This broadcast begins at noon instead of 1pm.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
A story of greed, betrayal and a nation at a loss, the Met's first new production of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov in 36 years places René Pape square in the limelight, showing off the German bass's warmth and nuance.
Based on Alexander Pushkin’s play of the same name, Boris Godunov is set at the turn of the 16th century and details the rise and fall of the title character as tsar, a leader who wants nothing more than to serve as Russia's benevolent ruler but is racked by the truth of how he came to power.
The opera exists in multiple versions. The Met’s production is based on the revised version of 1872, while also drawing on music from the original 1869 score. Boris Godunov, which had its premiere on 27 January 1874 at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, is Mussorgsky's only completed opera.
Director Stephen Wadsworth took over the new production at the Met last summer after Peter Stein left over a U.S. visa-related issue that set the opera world buzzing and had Met general manager Peter Gelb reportedly communicating in an email to Stein, "We can’t now be held hostage to the possibility that an airport procedure or some other event will offend you and result in your immediate departure.”
Previously at the Met, Wadsworth has led productions of Handel’s Rodelinda and Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride.
Among Boris' very large solo cast, listen in for tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko as Grigory (or Dimitry, depending on what twist in the tsarist world we're in), bass Mikhail Petrenko, who gets Pimen's points across, bass Vladimir Ognovenk as Varlaam, and tenor Andrey Popov as the Holy Fool, all of whom have won plaudits for their tender, deeply felt portrayals that cut through the production's stark grandeur. The Met chorus laudably steps to the plate in an opera that provides ample chance to showcase their talents.
Update: Please note that Pavel Smelkov replaces Valery Gergiev, who continues to suffer from exhaustion and is resting at home in St. Petersburg.
Cast and Credits:
Conductor: Pavel Smelkov
Marina: Ekaterina Semenchuk
Dimitri: Aleksandrs Antonenko
Shuisky: Oleg Balashov
Rangoni: Evgeny Nikitin
Boris Godunov: René Pape
Pimen: Mikhail Petrenko
Varlaam: Vladimir Ognovenko
Production: Stephen Wadsworth