Boris Godunov


Boris Godunov

(original edition by Dmitry Shostakovich)
Duration: 2 hours 25 minutes (with intermission)

Stage Director - Dmitry Bertman
Musical Director - Vladimir Ponkin
Set and Costume Designers - Igor Nezhny and Tatiana Tulubieva

Premiere: October 19, 2006

Language of performance: Russian


The action of "Boris Godunov" opera takes place in the Troubled (Smuta) times, when after the death of Ivan the Terrible the epidemy of imposture began. The thirst for unlimited power became the common disease.

"Boris Godunov" is one of the best famous repertoire Russian operas and also the absolute champion in number of editions, which it is performed in. M. Mussorgsky left two author editions, and N. Rimsky-Korsakov five (!!!) different versions.

In 100th anniversary since birth of D. Shostakovich "Helikon-Opera" turns to the edition made by him in 1940 on demand of Bolshoy Theatre. After Shostakovich began a new orchestrating of Musorgsky's clavier, he partly became a co-author. The destiny of this edition was uneasy. The premiere took place in Kirovsky theatre of Leningrad in 1960 only. This edition can be heard very seldom, because it is very complicated for performing.

The whole troupe of "Helikon-Opera" is engaged in this performance, first of all, the unique team of basses.


The action takes place between  February 20, 1598 and  April 13, 1605.

The Novodevichy Monastery.
The death of  Tsar Feodor Ioannovich interrupts   the dynasty of  the Riurikovich. It is necessary to convoke an Assembly of the Lands and arrange “people’s election” of the new Tsar. The people, impelled by the secretary of the Duma, Andrey Shcelkalov and urged by police officers, appeal to the boyar Boris Godunov asking him to ascend the Tsar’s throne.

The Coronation.
Festive toll accompanies Tsar Boris Feodorovich’s coronation in the Cathedral of Assumption. Shuisky tells the people and the boyars to glorify their new Tsar. Boris is being tortured by a tragic presentiment, in his thoughts he appeals to the passed away Tsar Feodor Ioannovich.

A Cell in the Monastery of Chudov.
Nearby the Cathedral of Assumption, in the Kremlin monastery of Chudov, Pimen is keeping his secret chronicles – a denunciation of Tsar Boris. The Simpleton Grigory learns from Pimen the details of Tsarevich Dimitry’s death, Ioann the Terrible’s youngest son, murdered according to the Godunov’s order in Uglich. In fact, on the day of Tsarevich’s death Pimen has been sent to Uglich “for a certain novitiate”. Pimen gives his blessings to Grigory for carrying on his deeds.

An Inn at the Lithuanian Border.
Grigory escapes from Moscow, in order to gather troops in Lithuania and dethrone Boris under the name of Tsarevich Dimitry. Together with two vagabonds – the monks Varlaam and Missail – he appears in the inn near the border. Suddenly the police offices arrive to announce the Tsar’s decree on a search and capture of the runaway. Grigory is saved by a miracle.

The Tsar’s Apartments in the Moscow Kremlin.
Tsarevna Xenia mourns over her dead fiancé, Korolevich Ivan;  Tsarevich Feodor is busy studying his father’s kingdom. Boris is contemplating over the sixth years of his rule. Prince Vassily Shuisky brings news about a pretender, who has appeared under the name of Tsarevich Dimitry in Lithuania. Boris again and again keeps asking Shuisky, who has been to Uglich investigating the circumstances of   Tsarevich Dimitry’s death, to confirm that Dimitry has been murdered without any doubt. Impressed by Shuisky’s report Boris cannot get rid of the images of the Tsarevich’s ghost.

The Mniszek’s Castle in Sandormierz.
Marina Mniszek, the daughter of a Polish Voyevoda, dreams of the Moscow Throne. For this dream comes true Jesuit Rangoni incites her to an alliance with the Simpleton-pretender. He arranges a rendezvous between Grigory and Marina. The Poles anticipate the prospects of Marina’s accession to the throne. Rangoni estimates, how much power he could get into his hands when his two protégés become rulers.

The Square in front of the St. Basil’s Cathedral 
The rumors about the Pretender’s approach and a forthcoming downfall of Boris have been extended in Moscow. Leaving behind his troops, the Simpleton Grigory comes to Moscow unrecognized in order to meet Boris and remind him of the Dimitry’s murder.

The Granovitaya Chamber in the Moscow Kremlin.
Boyars are adopting a decree on the Pretender’s capture and execution. Shuisky tells them about the Tsar’s illness. Boris appears, his mind is grasped by Dimitry’s ghost. The Tsar tries to get back to reality - at the moment Shuisky ushers in Pimen, who tells a story of miracles, taking place on the Tsarevich’s grave. Reminder of the murder courses a new attack on the Tsar. Boris dies, handing over his rule to his son Fyodor.


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