[Met Performance] CID:90460
Boris Godunov {72} Eastman Theatre, Rochester, New York: 5/7/1925.

(Review)


Rochester, New York
Eastman Theatre
May 7, 1925
In Italian


BORIS GODUNOV {72}
Mussorgsky--Mussorgsky

Boris Godunov...........Fyodor Chaliapin
Prince Shuisky..........Angelo Badà
Pimen...................José Mardones
Grigory.................Ralph Errolle
Marina..................Jeanne Gordon
Varlaam.................Paolo Ananian
Simpleton...............George Meader
Nikitich................Louis D'Angelo
Shchelkalov.............Lawrence Tibbett
Innkeeper...............Henriette Wakefield
Missail.................Max Altglass
Xenia...................Ellen Dalossy
Feodor..................Louise Hunter
Nurse...................Kathleen Howard
Khrushchov..............Giordano Paltrinieri
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

[Chaliapin always sang Boris in Russian.]


Review of A. J. Warner in the Rochester Times Union

Feodor Chaliapin Heard in His Famous Role in 'Boris Godunov"

Gives Remarkable Impersonation of Leading Part in Moussorgsky Opera - Second and Final Metropolitan Performance Draws Another Large Audience.

The Metropolitan Opera Company presented Moussorgsky's somber opera, "Boris Godunov," in the Eastman Theater last night, with the mighty Feodor Chaliapin in his famous role of the remorseful usurper. The audience was large and brilliant, although the house was not filled to capacity as on the preceding evening when "Falstaff" was given. Chaliapin's impersonation of Boris, which was seen in New York for the first time in December 1921, has been repeatedly acclaimed as the greatest performance the lyric stage has known; thus was Rochester signally privileged. An operatic actor of titanic gifts, he is likewise the "Betelgeuse of basses" and a singer whose voice has the vibratory thrill of some magic organ diapason which can produce thunderous magnificence of sound. Chaliapin's interpretive powers are unrivalled and unique and his vocal methods even more highly characteristic. There are moments when he suddenly stops singing and speaks his lines, and yet he manages to be always toweringly operatic.

Chaliapin's art is of a kind that baffles analysis and description. It is intricately involved with a remarkable personality and a consummate command of the technique of histrionism, coupled with an emotional intensity that is extraordinary. He can be poignantly, heartbreakingly tender with as complete persuasiveness as he can hypnotize his hearers by the vivid outward expression of his tortured soul. Moreover, he can sing with a ravishing opulence of tone - when he so desires, as he frequently did last night - and he is a master of fluent legato style that likewise embraces an incomparable command of declamation. Indeed, the aspects of Chaliapin's genius, as exemplified in his performance of Boris, are so many, so varied and so supreme, that one must forestall the temptation to pursue further their detailed enumeration, and have to touch upon the attribute of grace of motion and posture that is so richly his. For the plasticity of his characterization is another important factor in its rare pictorial splendor.

"Boris Godunov," as an opera, is the foundation stone of a new form. Its composer, not long before he began the work, explained his ideal of lyrico-dramatic speech, saying that it was his purpose to reproduce faithfully and truly in his music "the expressive qualities of the tones in which human beings whilst speaking, convey their thoughts and feelings." The first production of "Boris" took place in St. Petersburg on January 24, 1874. It received 20 consecutive performances before great audiences and, according to Stassov, bands of young people sang choruses from the opera at night in the streets and on the bridges of the Neva." History tells us that the younger generation of music lovers in Russia worshipped the work, and that political opposition was responsible for its subsequent mutilation, alteration and withdrawal. In 1896, 15 years after Moussorgsky's death "Boris" was restored to the repertoire of the opera house in St. Petersburg. It was not, however, until some 12 years later that the world beyond the Russian border came to know and revere it, following its presentation in Paris. Its American premiere took place at the Metropolitan on March 19, 1912 with Toscanini conducting a memorable performance.

As Lawrence Gilman has so graphically commented: "The immense pitifulness, the sorrowing tenderness, the fathomless compassion of Moussorgsky's magic are among the most precious heritages of our time. There is nothing at all like it in the whole stretch of the art as it has come down to us. Its simplicity of accent and gesture, its overwhelming sincerity, its unsounded depths are without analogy." And Chaliapin and this quintessentially national music drama become as one.

Last night's performance, barring the impersonation of the leading role and the beauty of the singing of the chorus, lacked the uniform distinction and artistic merit that marked "Falstaff." Angelo Bada sang the role of Shuisky with fine effect and George Meader did the brief part of the pitiful Simpleton weeping in the wintry sunset with his accustomed skill.

The other chief roles were taken by Jeanne Gordon as Marina; José Mardones, whose sonorous bass voice was heard to advantage in the music assigned to Brother Pimen; Lawrence Tibbett in the brief part of Shchelkalov; Louise Hunter as Feodor; Ellen Dalossy as Xenia; Kathleen Howard as the nurse and Ralph Errolle as Grigory. The scenery, we take it, was painted in Russia by Golovine. It is obviously admirable in design, but to call it shabby is to be but mildly chiding with only half the truth told.

Following a presentation of "Boris" in New York some time ago Mr. Gilman remarked that Gennaro Papi "directed a pedestrian performance of the orchestral score." The comment applies with special truth to last night's proceedings under Mr. Papi's baton.



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