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Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov / Noseda, Anastassov, Zubov, Marianelli, Storey, Bronder

Mussorgsky / Anastassov / Marianelli / Zubov
Release Date: 08/30/2011 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 1053  
Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Elena SommerLuca CasalinVladimir MatorinVasily Ladyuk,   ... 
Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turin Teatro Regio ChorusTurin Teatro Regio Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 2 Hours 44 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on Blu-ray

Boris Godunov is the story not only of a troubled leader but of an entire nation, and its history is as eventful as that of Mother Russia herself. In this new production, the legendary director Andrei Konchalovsky presents a personal vision of the opera that takes Mussorgsky’s bare and monumental first version as its basis, while adding the final scene from the composer’s revision, in which not only the Tsar but the people themselves reveal their fatal flaws.

Orlin Anastassov stars in the title role, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.

‘’Orchestrally and vocally outstanding’’ -- The Opera Critic

Modest
Read more Mussorgsky
BORIS GODUNOV
production based on the original 1869 version, with final scene of revised 1872 version
(DVD Version)

Boris – Orlin Anastassov
Xenia – Alessandra Marianelli
Fyodor – Pavel Zubov
Grigory – Ian Storey
Pimen – Vladimir Vaneev
Prince Shuisky – Peter Bronder
Andrey Shchelkalov – Vasily Ladyuk
Varlaam – Vladimir Matorin
Missail – Luca Casalin
Innkeeper – Nadezhda Serdyuk
Holy Fool – Evgeny Akimov
Nurse – Elena Sommer
Nikitich – John Paul Huckle
Mityukha – Oliviero Giorgiutti
Boyar-in-attendance – Matthias Stier
Khrushchyov – Andrei Konchalovsky

Torino Teatro Regio Chorus and Orchestra
Gianandrea Noseda, conductor

Andrei Konchalovsky, stage director

Recorded live from the Teatro Regio, Turin, 7–13 October 2010.

Bonus:
- Cast Gallery
- Interviews with Andrei Konchalovsky and Gianandrea Noseda

Picture format: NTSC 16:9 anamorphic
Sound format: LPCM Stereo 2.0 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Menu language: English
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
Running time: 164 mins
No. of DVDs: 1

R E V I E W:

Recognized today as its composer's masterpiece and one of the most important operas of its genre, Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov had a difficult birth and a chequered life. The composer created his own libretto. It was drawn from the historical tragedy of the same name by Alexander Pushkin and from Nikolai Karamzin's History of the Russian State. With its boldly contrasted succession of scenes and swift pace, many of Mussorgsky's contemporaries found his musical idiom strange and harsh. With today’s more adventurous tastes the terse declamation, along with differentiation of character by musical means, ensure the powerful impact of the opera is more acceptable. It’s now widely acclaimed. However, its early chaotic life with the composer’s many amendments and additions, along with the re-orchestration by Moussorgsky’s friend Rimsky-Korsakov, in an effort to increase the work’s popularity, have left a multitude of opportunities for various critical editions. This performance largely follows that by David Lloyd-Jones of the original 1869 version plus the Kromy Forest scene from the extended 1872 edition. The booklet’s introductory essay gives one of the best summaries with side-by-side comparisons of these two major versions. Regrettably, this seems to be at the cost of the normal list of Chapters with individual timings, and details of who is singing. By contrast we are afforded these particulars in the 2004 recording from the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona of Willi Decker’s minimalist production recently reviewed here.
 
Mussorgsky began the composition of Boris Godunov in October 1868 and carried on until it was finished in its first form in December 1869. To do so he gave up his job as a civil servant in St Petersburg, then the capital of Russia. Considering the work lacked the normal components of an opera, there being no prima donna, love interest, ensembles or dancing, the Mariinsky Theatre rejected his efforts in 1871. The theatre perhaps also anticipated trouble with the censors as the work delved into Russia’s troubled past and the worries of the people. Mussorgsky added a prima female role with a love interest in a remodelled version completed in 1872; the Maryinsky also rejected this. However, extracts were given in concert and the work was accepted for publication. This time it received its theatrical premiere, with some cuts, on 27 January 1874. It was a moderate success, but after the composer’s death, leaving behind four other operas uncompleted, it fell from the repertoire. In an effort to revive interest and return it to the repertoire, his friend Rimsky-Korsakov re-orchestrated the work altering melody, harmony, keys and dynamics to make it brighter and smoother. He also stated: I have not destroyed its original form, not painted over the old frescoes for ever. If ever the conclusion is arrived at that the original is better, then mine will be discarded and Boris Godunov will be performed according to the original score.
 
The Rimsky-Korsakov version was premiered in 1896 and with further modification in 1908. This version held sway under the influence of Chaliapin, Christoff and Ghiaurov in the title role, all of whom recorded their interpretation of Boris in this form. Later in the 1960s there was a general, albeit gradual, move back towards Mussorgsky's original with performances by the Welsh National Opera among others. This move was given a further spur by the first recording of this original version, along with all the 1872 additions, and featuring Marti Talvela in the title role (EMI 7 54377 2). Most major opera houses, as here, now follow the practice of using Mussorgsky’s own music in various combinations from the two editions. His extended 1872 version, in a renowned production by Tarkovsky shared between Covent Garden and the Mariinsky Theatre, is available on DVD although in 4:3 format (Philips 075 089-9).
 
The events of the opera take place in Moscow and elsewhere between 1598 and 1605. They fall within what Russian historians call The Times of the Troubles between the death of Ivan (“The Terrible”) in 1584 and the establishment of the Romanov dynasty. In 1584 Fyodor, a son by Ivan’s first wife succeeded him whilst her brother, Boris Godunov, established himself as the power behind the weak young king who died. Another young son by Ivan’s last wife, his seventh, named Dimitri was sent away to a monastery in 1591 where he died in mysterious circumstances, believed killed by Boris or on his instructions. A rumour spread that he had not died but escaped a plot to kill him. This rumour gave rise to the appearance of a pretender to the throne in 1603, the so-called False Dimitri. Boris accepts the throne of Russia but, constantly plagued by his conscience, loses his reason and dies after telling the Boyars to accept his own young son as his rightful heir to the throne. The fate of the young boy in the hands of the devious Shuisky and Schelkalov is less certain as this production clearly implies (Ch.43).
 
I have described Willi Decker’s staging and sets as minimalist and struggle for another word for those in this. The severely raked stage with all its planking on view forms a base to which openings and sloped variations are added. To this stark picture the added props are minimal until the final scene when Boris’s throne is joined by rows of chairs for the assembled Boyars summoned by Shuisky (Chs. 36-43). The starkness is perhaps meant to represent the then bleakness of Russian history and life. The cast are costumed realistically and in period. This adds significantly to the sense of the opera. There are some additional movements of people or persons towards the back of the stage but these are not wholly discernible as the Video Director indulges rather a lot in close-ups of the characters singing. This is particularly apparent in scene three, Pimen’s Cell, where it is not immediately apparent that Grigory, the false Dimitri, is present as the old monk reads from his own writings (Chs. 10-15). Elsewhere the stage director moves the participants with appropriate meaning and purpose whilst allowing them to develop the relevant character.
 
The young Bulgarian Orlin Anastassov, born 1976, takes the title role. His is very much a young man’s interpretation. His singing is generously toned and steady, if lacking in the sonority and vocal mellifluousness of his distinguished older compatriots Christoff and Ghiaurov in their recordings and as I heard them on the stage, albeit they sang only the Rimsky-Korsakov re-orchestrated version. I believe Anastassov sang the role of Boris previously in Monte Carlo and certainly he took that role in Boris’s death scene at Christoff’s 90 th anniversary concert. I do not doubt he will grow into a distinguished interpreter, but in this lyrically played performance his dependence on acting predominantly with his eyes rather than with whole face, body and, above all, with greater variety of tonal timbre and weight, is a weakness. The Pimen of Vladimir Vaneev is strong-toned if somewhat monochrome whilst Ian Storey, as his scheming novice, who picks on the story to claim to be Dimitri, creates a meaningful character. Peter Bronder, sometime of the Welsh National Opera, as the scheming and fawning Shuisky does not match Philip Langridge in the Willi Decker production on Arthaus for sheer creepy spookiness. Nonetheless, he creates a worthwhile and distinctive character. As Boyar Schelkalov, his compatriot in scheming, Vasily Ladjuk sings strongly and acts with conviction. Notable too are the Fyodor of Pavel Zubov, who acts superbly, and the pleasingly sung nurse of Elena Summer. Perhaps the most notable acted and sung performance comes from Vasily Ladjuk as the roistering monk Varlaam in the Inn scene (Chs.16-21). He gets a second appearance in the Kromy Forest scene included in this production (Chs 31-35).
 
If Orlin Anastassov’s Boris is that of a young man so too is that of Gianandrea Noseda on the rostrum. His lyrical reading fails to bring out the harshness that is within the story and also the composer’s music. The post-Ivan Russia of the story was a more brutal place than this musical interpretation brings out. The conductor seems to master this best where the vibrant choruses are involved rather than in the monologues and quickly-moving historical scenes. The chorus of Noseda’s fellow Italians, singing phonetically and appropriately costumed, do well and bring vitality and meaning to the plot when they are involved either as peasants in the opening scene as they call for Boris to accept the crown (Chs.2-6), in the Coronation Scene (Chs.7-9), in the Kromy Forrest or as Boyars in the final scene and at Boris’s death (Chs.36-43).
 
The bonus interview with Noseda is more cogent and interesting than that of the director. I suggest you play it before watching the performance.
 
-- Robert J Farr, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Elena Sommer (Mezzo Soprano), Luca Casalin (Tenor), Vladimir Matorin (Bass),
Vasily Ladyuk (Baritone), Peter Bronder (Tenor), Vladimir Vaneev (Bass),
Orlin Anastassov (Bass), Alessandra Marianelli (Soprano), Pavel Zubov (Voice),
Ian Storey (Tenor)
Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turin Teatro Regio Chorus,  Turin Teatro Regio Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Superb production of Boris April 5, 2014 By Peter A. (Longmont, CO) See All My Reviews "Based on the original Boris of Mussorgsky—or rather, several original sources—this production follows the structure of neither the first 1869 version of Boris, nor the second, 1872 version. Instead it combines scenes from both, in the order presumably preferred by the production team. For those who know the various versions and scenes, this production omits the Polish scenes, written for the 1872 version, but includes the scene for Boris and the fool before St. Basil's Cathedral, dropped for the 1872 version, then includes the Kromy Forest scene, which replaced the St. Basil's scene in 1872. As is often done, it reverses the final two scenes of the 1872 version, in order to end with Boris' death. There are a couple of problems with these choices, one being that the song of the holy fool is sung twice, once to Boris before St. Basil's and once on an empty stage at the end of the scene at Kromy. The impact of that song, which Mussorgsky clearly chose to end the opera in the 1872 version, is thus lessened. The choice of which scene to end the opera is a matter of personal preference, but I find that having the blind fool appear in Moscow, and then one scene later miles away at Kromy, is not only logically unlikely but also less effective. If you are used to hearing the Polish scenes, this will seem like an abbreviated Boris. There were both dramatic and operatic reasons that Mussorgsky added the Polish scenes—breaking up the succession of gloomy scenes placed in Russia, more brilliant music, a genuine female lead role and love music—but they have not always met with approval. I go back and forth on that personally, because there is some lovely music in the Polish scenes, and some genuine drama in the form of the slippery Jesuit Rangoni. At the same time, it is so different from the rest of Boris that it can seem out of place. There are other versions of Boris with the Polish scenes, if you want to have them. All that said, it must be noted that every production of Boris is a compromise among versions, as chosen by the presenters. There is no such thing as a definitive Boris, but this once is unquestionably superb, with outstanding voices, great acting and singing, good sound and excellent visual quality. It uses a unit set, giving it a dark and brooding quality throughout that matches Mussorgsky's score. If you prefer a more realistic and brilliant production, you can find that, too, but this is certainly effective. A word on the Mussorgsky scoring: The problem with the well known Rimsky-Korsakov version is NOT that it is not effective, or brilliant, or beautiful; it is that it is not as dark and heavy, not as Russian as the Mussorgsky. Rimsky's brilliant scoring is much brighter and smoother, and thus it can be very pleasing indeed. But for those that prefer the more Russian qualities of Mussorgsky's original scoring, this will be an excellent choice. The outstanding performances by the leading singers, especially Boris and Pimen, make this a worthy addition to any opera collection." Report Abuse
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