14 April 2017 (Fri), 18:00 World famous Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet and Opera - established 1783 - Stars of the Stars Conducted by Maestro Gergiev Opera Modest Musorgsky "Khovanshchina" (folk musical drama in five acts, six scenes). Tickets available only at BalletAndOpera.com
Running time: 4 hours 40 minutes (till 22:40)
The performance has 2 intermissions
Schedule for Modest Musorgsky "Khovanshchina" (folk musical drama in five acts, six scenes). 2017
Conductor: Maestro Valery Gergiev
Bass: Sergei Alexashkin
Tenor: Sergei Semishkur
Composer: Modest Mussorgsky
Costume Designer: Tatiana Noginova
Lighting Designer: Vladimir Lukasevich
Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko
Musical Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
Set Designer: Vyacheslav Okunev
Musical Preparation: Marina Mishuk
Set Designer: Yuri Alexandrov
Choreography: Dmitry Korneyev
Revival Stage Director: Yuri Laptev
Stage Director: Leonid Baratov
Set Designer: Fyodor Fyodorovsky
Orchestra: Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra
Opera company: Mariinsky (Kirov) Opera
Opera in 5 acts
Performed in Russian the performance will have synchronised English supertitles
World premiere: 21 February 1886, Amateur Musical-Dramatic Club in Kononov Auditorium, St Petersburg
Premiere in Russia: 7 November 1911 St Petersburg
Premiere of this production: 1 May 2000, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg
New stage version: Yury Alexandrov (2000)
Libretto by the composer
Orchestrated: Dmitry Shostakovich
Stage Director - Leonid Baratov
Set Designer - Fedor Fedorovsky
Performed in Russian
Khovanshchina (Hovanscina, sometimes rendered The Khovansky Affair) is an opera (subtitled a ’national music drama’) in five acts by Modest Mussorgsky. The work was written between 1872 and 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The composer wrote the libretto based on historical sources.
Ever since Musorgsky, as he himself declared, “filled in a jotter and called it
Khovanshchina” (1872) the opera has been met with both good and bad luck.
Musorgsky almost completed the piano score, omitting only a small fragment in
the final scene of self-immolation. After the composer’s death the opera was
completed and instrumented by Rimsky-Korsakov.
The path to international
acclaim was very roundabout: most of Khovanshchina – repeating the fate of Boris
Godunov – was performed in the version produced by Rimsky-Korsakov. While paying
their respects to this version, starting in the 1950s musicians began to express
their preference for the composer’s original score, lovingly restored by Pavel
Lamm (1932) and the orchestral score of Dmitry Shostakovich (1959), the closest
to Musorgsky’s original idea. In its day the Kirov Theatre was the first to turn
to Shostakovich’s version (1960). In December 1988 with the arrival of Valery
Gergiev as the theatre’s Artistic Director this production was revived. That was
Gergiev’s first major artistic production in his new role.
years after the revival we are again – to use an expression of Musorgsky –
“swimming in the waters of Khovanshchina”. Even over such a lengthy period the
production has never changed – in terms of the music or the décor. Perhaps this
is all due to the magnificent stage direction of Leonid Baratov (1952), an
outstanding master of the stage who worked with the USSR’s greatest musical
The attention to realistic details and the scale of the crowd
scenes gave his productions historic veracity and monumentality. Baratov’s
Khovanshchina survived Rimsky-Korsakov’s version and the score by Shostakovich
(Baratov himself then made minor amendments in terms of the production). For the
Musorgsky Festival in 1989 the production was edited by stage director Emil
Pasynkov, while Valery Gergiev refreshed musical perceptions, restoring the
music that had been unjustifiably cut. The fabled sets by Fyodor Fedorovsky were
also restored, continuing in the Soviet era the traditions of the great theatre
designers Konstantin Korovin and Alexander Golovin. That stage version was
subsequently revived by Yuri Alexandrov and Yuri Laptev (2000).
Mariinsky Theatre’s repertoire retains the production dating back to the
premiere of Khovanshchina at the Mariinsky in November 1911 (Stage Director and
performer of the role of Dosifei – Fyodor Chaliapin; Conductor - Albert Coates;
Designer – Konstantin Korovin).
It is pleasing that Khovanshchina, although
not yet having achieved the same public acclaim as, say, The Queen of Spades or
Eugene Onegin, is becoming a favourite of prima donnas and principals.
another – almost the most important – “character” in the opera is the orchestra
which sings, at times ideally intoning the vocal parts, the orchestra which
towers over the plot of the introduction in Dawn over the River Moskva and the
gloomy Golitsyn Train... “For me the sound of the orchestra in the final scene
is much more important than all the props on-stage. Is it so very important if
the schismatic monastery is on fire or not? I believe that here it is the
orchestra that has to be on fire.” These words of Gergiev convey the atmosphere
of creative fire that accompanies Khovanshchina at the Mariinsky Theatre.
Today the composer could say with more justification than ever “Today I live
in Khovanshchina as I once lived in Boris and I’m still the same Musorgsky...”
It’s an opera about age-old Russian sedition, current at all times.
Red Square in Moscow. Dawn. The boyar Shaklovity –
a protégé of Tsarevna Sofia – is dictating an anonymous letter to Peter I in
which he denounces the head of the streltsys (a privileged military core
instituted by Ivan the Terrible) Ivan Khovansky for planning to place this son
on the throne and re-establish the old order in Russia. At the same time,
the streltsys scouts praise themselves for their recent victory over the
loathsome boyars. In memory of these bloody events a column is erected on the
square onto which the names of the executed are carved. Strangers just arriving
halt at the column. They make the scrivener read out the words to them. In
gloomy contemplation they are struck down by the thought of sedition and
the streltsys’ despotism.
To welcoming cries from the streltsy
Prince Ivan Khovansky appears. He is followed by his son Andrei who is pursuing
his love for Emma, a girl from the German sloboda. Through his promises and
threats he will win Emma’s love. Marfa, Andrei’s new sweetheart, comes to her
defence. Returning, Ivan Khovansky witnesses this scene. He himself has taken a
fancy to Emma, but Andrei is ready to kill her rather than let his father have
her. The knife held over the girl is imperiously removed by Dosifei, the leader
of the dissenters.
The study of Prince Vasily Golitsyn, the
favourite of Tsarevna Sofia. The Prince is immersed in gloomy thoughts and he is
seized by a fear of the future.
The pastor from the German sloboda comes to
him with a complaint about the Khovanskys’ arbitrariness, but the Prince does
not with to hear him.
Marfa comes into the chamber through a secret door.
Under the guise of a fortune-teller, Marfa predicts the Prince will face
disgrace. Superstitious, Golitsyn is left confused. In order to keep the
prophesy a secret he orders a servant to kill the fortune-teller, but Marfa
manages to conceal herself.
At Golitsyn’s house the opponents of Peter I
have assembled. Golitsyn and Khovansky’s talk of hidden rivals who hate and fear
one another develops into a quarrel which is terminated by Dosifei. He orders
them to control their arrogant pride and think of the salvation of Russia.
Perturbed, Marfa runs in. She tells of the attempt on her life and her
miraculous salvation thanks to a soldier of the young Tsar Peter. The
conspirators hear this name in fear. But there is yet more disturbing news,
brought to them by Shaklovity: the Tsar has learned of the plot branded it “the
Khovansky Affair” and decreed that it be investigated.
Marfa has come to the Khovanskys’ house not far
from the River Moskva. She feels Prince Andrei’s betrayal deeply. Dosifei,
comforting her, takes her away with him.
Having woken up, the drunken
streltsy give free reign to riotous and reckless merriment. It is interrupted by
the scrivener who is frightened to death. A disaster has occurred: mercilessly
killing the residents of the sloboda, Peter’s army is advancing. The
streltsy are stunned. They ask Khovansky to lead the troops onto the
battlefield. Fearing Peter, however, the Prince orders the streltsy to
submit and go home.
Golitsyn’s servant warns Khovansky,
who has taken refuge at his estate near Moscow, that his life is in danger.
Khovansky explodes in fury – who would dare touch him on his own lands?
Shaklovity appears with an invitation from Tsarevna Sofia to a secret
rendezvous. Khovansky orders his ceremonial clothes be put on. But as soon as
the Prince leaves the chamber Shaklovity’s mercenary stabs him with a
Punishment awaits the other conspirators, too: Prince Golitsyn is
sent into exile under escort and guards are given the order to surround the
dissenters’ monastery. Andrei Khovansky alone knows nothing of the plot’s
failure. He does not believe Marfa, who tells him about the murder of his
father, and in vain blows into a horn, calling his regiment. However, when he
sees the streltsys being led to their deaths, Andrei understands that all
is over and in terror he asks Marfa to save him.
The streltsys are already
bowing their heads on the executioner’s blocks, but at the very last minute the
boyar Streshnev declares a decree of pardon, having been sent by Peter.
A clearing deep in the forest. Alone, Dosifei
laments. He admits the dissenters are doomed. Filled with bold determination he
turns to the brotherhood and calls on them to burn in fire in the name of Holy
Truth. The sounds of trumpets can be heard from the forest. The dissenters enter
the monastery with a prayer and set light to themselves. Along with the whole
fraternity, Andrei also perishes, drawn into the flames by Marfa who dreamt of
being united with her beloved in death.
Schedule for Modest Musorgsky "Khovanshchina" (folk musical drama in five acts, six scenes). 2017