[Met Performance] CID:88040
Boris Godunov {67} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/6/1924.

(Debut: Max Altglass
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 6, 1924
In Italian


BORIS GODUNOV {67}
Mussorgsky-Mussorgsky

Boris Godunov...........Fyodor Chaliapin
Prince Shuisky..........Angelo Badà
Pimen...................Léon Rothier
Grigory.................Mario Chamlee
Marina..................Jeanne Gordon
Varlaam.................Paolo Ananian
Simpleton...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Nikitich................Louis D'Angelo
Shchelkalov.............Lawrence Tibbett
Innkeeper...............Henriette Wakefield
Missail.................Max Altglass [Debut]
Xenia...................Ellen Dalossy
Feodor..................Raymonde Delaunois
Nurse...................Kathleen Howard
Khrushchov..............Unknown
Lavitsky................Millo Picco
Chernikovsky............Vincenzo Reschiglian

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

Boris Godunov received six performances this season.

[Benois designed only the Polish Scene.
Chaliapin always sang Boris in Russian.]


Review of guest critic Ernest Newman (UK) in the New York Post

"Boris Godunov" at the Metropolitan

Until last night, I had not heard Chaliapin in "Boris Godunov" since the summer of 1914. It was perhaps inevitable that with his unforgettable performances of ten and a half years ago still vividly before me, last night should have been something of a disappointment. The glorious voice of old is no longer there, that voice to which singing came as easily as speaking, and that was equally beautiful in its softest as in it loudest tones. The face has lost its mobility and its intensity of expression; and Chaliapin is never too conscious in his acting, both of himself and of his audience. And yet, when all is said, his Boris is still something beyond the capacity of any other operatic singer; everybody seems stagy in comparison with him. Mr. Chaliapin, for instance, sang very mellifluously, but he always brought the atmosphere of Italian opera with him.

Miss Jeanne Gordon gave an excellent study of the haughty and calculating Marina, and made us regret that we could not see her in that scene with the Jesuit. Uniformly efficient, too, were the Xenia of Mme. Dalossy, the Nurse of Mme. Howard, the Shuisky of Mr. Bada (though the character was not made supple enough). the Pimen of Mr. Rothier, and the Varlaam of Mr. Ananian. The Idiot of Mr. Paltrinieri was well sung, but was too sophisticated; and, for me, the final moments of the forest scene were spoiled by his too carefully chosen attitude. A more poignant effect is always made by the avoidance of stage "effect," with the Idiot left rocking himself in an unconscious ecstasy of pittifulness.

Mussorgsky's gesture is at its height in the forest scene, and one can give the production no higher praise than to say that this was the most superbly done thing of the evening. The Russian people are the real heroes of "Boris Godunov." In them, the tragedy rises and is consummated; even the Tsar is only a fleeting figure against that tremendous background. In the earlier scenes both the choral singing and the orchestral playing had been rather tame. A certain primitive harshness is the very essence of the work. Mr. Papi, who conducted, was at first inclined to soften the colors; the bells in the coronation scene especially were as decorous as those of a village church heard across the meadows, whereas the air should tremble and the sky crack with their momentous clangor. But in the forest scene he whipped both the orchestra and the chorus into the right kind of savagery. In Paris it is the custom, at the end of the scene, for the chorus alone to take the "curtain." If ever a chorus deserved that compliment it was last night's.

Golovine's settings are of great beauty and dignity, and the production was masterly. On one point only it was perhaps not correct. I speak, subject to correction; but surely, in the inn scene Gregory ought not to be in what the lady in a certain story described as the "garbage of a monk?" In the forest scene, Dimitri came in on a beautiful white horse. The animal behaved himself admirably for the said part, but kept tossing his head and snorting while Dimitri was pouring out his soul in song. A bit of a critic, apparently.



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