[Met Performance] CID:79320
Boris Godunov {49} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/9/1921.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 9, 1921
In Italian


BORIS GODUNOV {49}
Mussorgsky-Mussorgsky

Boris Godunov...........Fyodor Chaliapin
Prince Shuisky..........Angelo Badà
Pimen...................Léon Rothier
Grigory.................Orville Harrold
Marina..................Jeanne Gordon
Varlaam.................Paolo Ananian
Simpleton...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Nikitich................Louis D'Angelo
Shchelkalov.............Carl Schlegel
Innkeeper...............Marie Mattfeld
Missail.................Pietro Audisio
Xenia...................Ellen Dalossy
Feodor..................Raymonde Delaunois
Nurse...................Kathleen Howard
Lavitsky................Vincenzo Reschiglian
Chernikovsky............Vincenzo Reschiglian
Boyar in Attendance.....Giordano Paltrinieri

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

Orchestration by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Director................Samuel Thewman
Set designer............Alexander Golovine
Set designer............Alexander Benois
Costume designer........Ivan Bilibine
Translation by M.Delines, E. Palermi, G. Pardo


Synopsis of Scenes
Act I, Scene 1: The wall of Novodievitchi Convent, in the Great Environs of Moscow
Act I, Scene 2: A cell in the Convent of Miracles
Act I, Scene 3: The square between the two Cathedrals of the Assumption and of the Archangels

Act II, Scene 1: An inn on the frontier of Lithuania
Act II, Scene 2: Apartments of the Czar in the Kremlin at Moscow
Act II, Scene 3: Garden of the Castle of Michek

Act III, Scene 1: The forest of Kromy
Act III, Scene 2: Hall of the Duma in the Kremlin


[Chaliapin always sang Boris in Russian.]

Boris Godunov received six performances this season.


Review of Deems Taylor in The New York World:

Feodor Chaliapin brings something to the opera that is greater than singing, greater than acting. He brings drama, that perfect realization and illusion of life for which singing and acting exist, the thing that only a few of the great possess. Jeritza has it; Whitehill sometimes has it; but neither possesses it to the overpowering degree that Chaliapin does.

He sang Boris at the Metropolitan last night for the first time here. One says "sang" because it is the conventional word and the most easily comprehended. It is not adequate. He lived Boris; he was Boris. When he strode upon the stage in the first act towering above his lords and nobles, his gold crown flashing in the sun, his kaftan heavy with embroidery, and swept his arm over his people in a great gesture of benediction, all sense of artifice, of the theatre, vanished. As long as he was there the other singers, the scenery, the audience, even Moussorgsky's great music-all were blotted out. One saw only the Czar Boris Godunoff, living, triumphant, agonizing and dying.

Chaliapin must be the most stupendous stage personality in the world. There is no question of his creating an illusion. The thing he inspires is belief, instant, absolute, unquestioning. Even as he gazed, terrified, across the palace chamber at the ghost of the murdered Dmitri, the audience turned started eyes toward the spot at which he has gazing. And when they saw nothing there they turned again to the Czar, groveling on his knees by his chair, a tortured Rodin figure some to life, so huge, so pitiful-and wrung their hands and suffered his torment with him. When he lay dying in the hall of the Duma, his great frame stretched prone as a fallen oak, his glazed and blinded eyes turned for the last time upon his little son, men and women watched him with unashamed tears trickling down their cheeks.

His voice is marvelous. Such thrilling timbre, such almost incredible control of coloring and dynamics, are something one might not ever find again in a generation of opera going. He sang in Russian; and it seemed as if Moussorgsky's music had never quite been heard before. For Moussorgsky did more than set Russian words to music; he wrote music that is as much a part of the Russian language as the words themselves.

For the rest the performance was largely a familiar one. Orville Harrold lent his fine voice and good acting to the part of Dmitri. Leon Rothier was Brother Pimen, Jeanne Gordon was Marina and Paolo Ananian was Varlaam. Mr. Audisio made Missail a sketch of irresistible drollery, and Bada as Shouisky rose to unexpected heights in his scenes with Boris. Mr. Papi led a fair performance that dragged at times, and the chorus sang well but showed signs of needing some acting rehearsals.

The house was sold out completely, of course, and the audience was hysterical in its reception of the great Russian. The roar that greeted him after the Kremlin scene was deafening. And well they might cheer. They were seeing operatic history in the making.



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