[Met Performance] CID:79390
Boris Godunov {50} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/14/1921.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 14, 1921
In Italian


BORIS GODUNOV {50}
Mussorgsky--Mussorgsky

Boris Godunov...........Fyodor Chaliapin
Prince Shuisky..........Angelo Badà
Pimen...................José Mardones
Grigory.................Aureliano Pertile
Marina..................Margarete Matzenauer
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

[Chaliapin always sang Boris in Russian.]

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

Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America

Chaliapine's Second 'Boris'

Feodor Chaliapin's second appearance at the Metropolitan Opera House in the title rôle of "Boris Godounoff" even surpassed, in some of its aspects, the sensational triumph of the first. Wednesday night's audience again tested the capacity of the opera house, and again hundreds were turned away - many, however, refusing to leave the lobby until virtually ejected and some coming back repeatedly until almost the end of the performance in the hope of finding a way to gain admittance. The ordinary "door list" was suspended, thereby complicating the difficulties of the ticket takers who had to face the lobby throng. It was no easy night for them.

Inside, the audience shouted and applauded as at the first performance. But it was not left to the mob behind the rail to create the din. All through the house - orchestra, parterre, grand tier and balconies - there was enthusiastic hand clapping as the giant Russian bass was called before the curtain an uncounted number of times, finally appearing without his make-up. The tensity and intentness of the audience was indicated by the hisses that came from everywhere, when, after the thrillingly realistic death of Boris in the final scene, some over-eager persons began applause that marred the effect of the orchestral threnody which closes the scene.

Chaliapin's characterization of Boris again was one of great power and vividness, dominating the stage and dwarfing the other principals, excellent as some of them were. Save in the Cathedral processional, he sang better than at the first performance. The last act farewell to the son, in particular, was of more glowing tone. This time he ended it with a beautiful and moving pianissimo phrase which he omitted at the earlier representation. Throughout, the lyric episodes were more lyrical, without any loss of dramatic emotionality. There were some tones of tremendous power, others that were mere whispers and sighs. The scenes of the apparition and the death of Boris were again of simply overwhelming power.

There were several changes in the cast, Margaret Matzenauer assuming the role of Marina for the first time in New York; Aureliano Pertile (also appearing in his part for the first time in Manhattan) replacing Orville Harrold as Dmitri; and Jose Mardones donning the monkish robes of Pimen, worn at the last performance by Leon Rothier. Mme. Matzenauer made a regal figure of a role that has never been a grateful one, without singing in her best estate. Mr. Pertile did less to shatter the melodic line of the music of the Garden Scene than has been true of his predecessors at some performances. The fine voice of Mardones seemed bottled up in the music of Pimen. Among lesser parts, Marie Mattfeld's Innkeeper, Paolo Ananian's Vaarlam, Angelo Bada's Shouisky and Giordano Paltrinieri's Simpleton must be given a word of special praise. Others in the cast were Raymonde Delaunois, Kathleen Howard, Ellen Dalossy, Pietro Andisio, Carl Schegel and Vincenzo Reschiglian.

Conductor Papi plainly worked hard with the score, but with greater success in choral than in orchestral effects. The sting and sweep of many of the latter were wanting. His Russianism was less than skin-deep.

A changed detail of the staging was noted in the third scene, when the doorways of the two Cathedrals were so placed as to face directly out toward the audience. This facilitated the procession between them and relieved the congestion as Boris made his way across the stage. After the stirring singing of the chorus in the penultimate scene it was unfortunate that the property men in the loft ran out of snow. The Simpleton escaped, being covered up by it, and thus much of the effect of the tableau that followed his lamentations on the fate of unhappy Russia was lost.



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