[Met Performance] CID:82020
Boris Godunov {55} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/15/1922.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 15, 1922
In Italian


BORIS GODUNOV {55}
Mussorgsky-Mussorgsky

Boris Godunov...........Fyodor Chaliapin
Prince Shuisky..........Angelo Badà
Pimen...................José Mardones
Grigory.................Orville Harrold
Marina..................Margarete Matzenauer
Varlaam.................Paolo Ananian
Simpleton...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Nikitich................Louis D'Angelo
Shchelkalov.............Vincenzo Reschiglian
Innkeeper...............Henriette Wakefield
Missail.................Pietro Audisio
Xenia...................Ellen Dalossy
Feodor..................Raymonde Delaunois
Nurse...................Flora Perini
Lavitsky................Carl Schlegel
Chernikovsky............Vincenzo Reschiglian
Boyar in Attendance.....Giordano Paltrinieri

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

Orchestration by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Director................Armando Agnini
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 five performances this season.

[Cast changes in the company's signed programs indicate that Reschiglian sang Shchelkalov and that Schlegel performed either Lavitsky or Chernikovsky. Schlegel probably sang Lavitsky, his role in the subsequent performance on November 20. The company paybook, however, states that Schlegel sang Shchelkalov and that Reschiglian sang both Lavitsky and Chernikovsky-an impossibility, since these characters must sing in harmony. Chaliapin always sang Boris in Russian.]


Review of W. J. Henderson in the Sun

CHALIAPIN SINGS GLORIOUS FIRST BORIS OF THE SEASON

Two Russian revolutions were promulgated at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. One was on the stage, in all the old and colored glory of the days of Boris Godunoff, where Chaliapin reigned once more supreme, and the fires of Dimitri's triumph blazed again across the snowy brow of Kremy's steppes in accents magnificently Moussorgskian. The other revolution was of a damper, darker sort, fought out on the wet sidewalks of Thirty-ninth Street by a crowd of hopefuls, trying to rush the new passageway for standees.

It was not in arithmetical truth, as large a crowd as heard Chaliapin so many times last season in the great Russian epic, but it had reason to be - and was - the most appreciative audience he has yet sung to in America. For it is doubtful whether this famous basso has ever sung here with finer art or in happier voice.

The clear strength and freshness of tone which distinguished Chaliapin's initial recital a few weeks ago - different, indeed, from the hoarse and shaky handicap with which he had to contend last season - shone up even more greatly in opera than in a program of miscellaneous song. Nor was the material here in peril of having its fragility pulled apart by his enormous personality, as it was in recital; but, on the contrary, there were the towering heights of one of the greatest operas ever written for him to scale and stand upon. The grand manner on a grand pedestal.

May the gods of accuracy forgive us, but, we have never seen or heard in all our possibly few years under the cherubic roof of the Metropolitan, a more beautiful piece of singing and acting art and demeanor than that which Chaliapin contributed last night to the first act of "Boris." The size of him, the pomp and regality, the tenderness with which he inclined his crown to the prostrate people, the sense of gave a hero glorified and doomed by the same anointment - this was not all of it. There was the voice itself; a voice that gave the imperial proclamation such a lyric form as a deity would give who leans down from mountain tops to bless the valleys.

Mr. Chaliapin continued his inspiring performance on a plane that never descended from the first act's. He is the master actor. What he does in that lovely little scene with his children; what he does against the awful phantom of his fears; what an inimitable thing he makes of the death scene - these details are remembered, of course, from his performances of last season. But he added to the grace and giant appeal of them last night the contribution of a fine voice, whole and sound.

There are some scenes that still fail, are still purposeless and stodgy in the elaborate Metropolitan production. They are key scenes too, which leave rifts of apathy in the march of the most stirring drama of a whole people ever written. If you cannot credit the Russian poet with that superlative, try Romain Rolland's attempts at recreating the French Revolution, and see the difference. But even a Pushkin fails to mean much when he is acted as casually and methodically as the scene, for instance, between Pimen and Dimitri is. Or as the inn scene of the second act is.

A Russian opera organization came in simple and almost threadbare style to the New Amsterdam Theater last spring and sang "Boris" for us there. They sang it naively, with kitchen chairs and makeshift drops. But these two scenes - the very ones the Metropolitan is allowing to fail away to a dead level - were absolutely stunning when sung by the vagrant Russians. They remembered the rule of slapstick in the midst of tragedy. They turned the inn scene into a swash bucking farce - a real scream - which it is supposed to be. Nor did they use knives and forks at the table. And the convent scene was sung with fervency, a feeling for the text and the stone walls that are hearing it, that Mr. Mardones's fine voice could not even suggest last night. Mr. Harrold has in the False Dimitri one of his most unfavorable roles. It is too bad that a tenor of such proven value to the company could not have been launched for the season in a part more gracious to his capabilities.

The whole of that rich scene of the coronation had evidently been rehearsed to new advantages and effects. It is a highly populous scene, peasants, priests and boyars pressed into singing service between the two huge cathedrals that flank the stage. Usually it has been an awkward toe trodding business. But last night hinted of excellent revisions in the stage management. Every one knew where to walk, and what to sing, and when and how - and all the "glorias" that Moussorgsky wrote into it and that Rimsky retained, were glorious beyond recall or reaction. The mob scene in the forest, later on, was equally surgent with new spirit.

Mme. Matzenauer was the Marina, Princess of Poland - and looking as if Poland had experienced a lean year. She sang and acted it all gaily and well. Raymonde Dalaunois, always a fine foil to Boris as his son, was especially effective in the sad little scene last night, and Ellen Dalossy as the little Xenia was as happy a part of the picture. Mr. Bada was subtle as before in the cruel part of Shuisky, with Miss Wakefield newly trained to the possibilities of the Innkeeper, Louis D'Angelo as the Police Officer, Mr. Reschiglian doubling as Lavitzky and Schelkalov. The Varlaam was Mr. Ananian, the Missail Mr. Audisio, Mr. Paltrinierei was the Simpleton - in simplest terms. This is one of the greatest roles in all opera, even though it has only a few bars for its singing - but evidently Mr. Paltrinieri does not think so. Mr. Papi conducted.



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