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Boris Godunov

opera with comments in two acts
music by Modest Mussorgsky
production by Dmitry Belov


Libretto by Modest Mussorgsky after A. Pushkins tragedy of the same name and Nikolay Karamzins History of the Russian State

Musical director and conductor: Dmitri Jurowski
Stage director: Dmitrii Belov
Scenery: Gleb Filshtinsky
Video director: Serafima Gavrilova
Costumes: Anastasia Shentalinskaia
Lighting design: Irina Vtornikova
Chorus master: Viacheslav Podelski
Science adviser: Tatiana Vilinbakhova
Video content production, technical advice: Show Consulting studio

Revised by Pavel Lamm, scoring by Dmitri Shostakovich
(performed without Polish Act)

3 hours 10 minutes

one intermission

performed in russian (with russian surtitles)

Premiered on November 28, 2015

Mussorgskys grand musical drama revives nearly a detective story of times long gone. With the help of modern media tech the production team engages the audience into investigation of historic events, combining the updated knowledge of Troubled Times with a masterpiece of operatic realism.


First scene. Crowded courtyard of the Novodevichiy Monastery near Moscow. Vasiliy Shuysky, one of the boyars, is making his way through the crowd towards the monastery. Policeman appears ordering the people to drop to their knees and to beg Boris Godunov to be coronated. Andrei Shchelkalov, sexton of the boyars council walks out to the crowd. He announces that Boris wouldnt even think of becoming the tsar, so he asks for support of the gathered people. Wondering minstrels approach the monastery. They pray for coronation of Boris Godunov aimed at salvation of Rus. The people join their prayer.

Second scene. Cathedral Square in the Moscow Kremlin. Boris is being coronated. The boyars bring the attributes of the tsar power in the Assumption Cathedral. Patriarch Job bestows them upon the new Tsar. As Shuysky commands, the people start praising the arisen Tsar. Boris follows into the Archangel Cathedral, where the tombs of past rulers dwell. Boris begs the deceased for support and help, then announces the feast in celebration of his coronation. The people rejoice.


Third scene. A cell in the Chudov Monastery. Pimen, a venerable monk, finishes writing a chronicle of Russian history. The young novice Grigoriy Otrepiev awakes. Pimen tells Grigoriy a story, where he accuses Boris Godunov of regicide killing of the rightful heir, Tsarevich Dmitriy. The novice finds out that he is of the same age with the deceased tsarevich. Pimen wishes to pass Grigoriy the chronicle, his life work. Grigoriy runs away from the monastery.

Fourth scene. An Inn on the Lithuanian Border, outskirts of the Moscovia. The hostess of the inn is awaiting visitors. The regulars arrive fugitive monks Varlaam and Misail. They are followed by Otrepiev. The monks drink wine, Otrepiev asks the hostess of the path to Lithuania. She decides to reveal the pathway abroad. Policemen arrive: they are looking for a fugitive of the Chudov Monastery, an unworthy monk Grigoriy of Otrepiev family. Grigoriy is denounced, so he uses the hidden paths to get lost in Polish-Lithuanian kingdom.



Fifth scene. Tsar's Terem in the Moscow Kremlin. Boris is soothing his daughter, who mourns the death of her bridegroom, Johan of Schleswig-Holstein. Together with his son Feodor the Tsar is contemplating the geographical map of Moscovia. Both family and state affairs of Boris are in discord Prince Shuysky brings the word of Tsarevich Dmitriy appearing in Lithuania. Boris tries to interrogate Shuysky who is engaged in Pretenders appearance. Shuysky plants even more suspicions in Tsars soul. Boris is alone, begging heavens for salvation.

Sixth scene. The Square before the Cathedral of Vasiliy the Blessed in Moscow. The crowd is discussing rumors of the Pretenders military forces approaching. The people are blaming Boris Godunov for the hunger, strife and poverty. The Holy Fool appears, swarmed by little boys. They poke fun at him and steal a kopek. Robbed by kids the Holy Fool appeals to their parents. Day hours are over. Hungry people desperately beg the boyars and the Tsar for bread. The Holy Fool complains to the Tsar about the boys: Command to murder them like you murdered the little tsarevich. Boris stops the guards, which has already gone for the Holy Fool, asking to pray for him. Mother of God does not allow praying for Tsar Herod answers the Holy Fool.

Seventh scene. The Boyars Duma in The Faceted Palace, Moscow Kremlin. Andrey Shchelkalov is trying by threats to prevent any treason attempt or strife among the boyars. They make excuses and lay the blame on Shuysky. He arrives, telling of the Tsars dementation and weak health condition. Boris appears; he tries to restore order in Duma. Shuysky brings in the monk Pimen who tells of miraculous healing of a blind man, who said a prayer upon the grave of the dead tsarevich Dmitriy. Tired of accusations and suspicions, the Tsar is feeling that death is near, so he calls for his son Feodor. Boris takes the vows of schema, and passes barely having told the last rites to his son.

Eighth scene. On a forest glade near Kromi, a town in Orlov oblast, the people are executing the tsar war chief boyar Khrushchev for his attempts to defame tsarevich Dmitriy. The crowd sets up an antic coronation let him be honored like a thief that he is. Varlaam and Misail are also here encouraging the people to dethrone Boris Godunov. They are instigating the people to stand up for the rightful Tsar Dmitriy. The crowd is taunting Khrushchev, and executing Jesuits chaplains of Dmitriys forces for being in the wrong place in the wrong time. The Pretender appears. His army is advancing on Moscow. The crowd is praising and following the Pretender. The Holy Fool foretells other terrible woes for Rus.