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Mussorgsky:Boris Godunov
Mussorgsky:Boris Godunov
Release datum:
Modest Mussorgsky
Boris Godunov
Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, 2004

Matti Salminen (Boris Godunov)
Brian Asawa (Fyodor, Boris’s son)
Marie Arnet (Xenia, Boris’s daughter)
Stefania Toczyska (Xenia’s Nurse)
Philip Langridge (Prince Vassily Shuisky)
Albert Shagidullin (Andrei Shchelkalov)
Eric Halfvarson (Pimen, a monk and chronicler)
Pär Lindkog (The Pretender, by name Grigory)
Anatoly Kotcherga (Varlaam, a vagabond)
Itxaro Mentxaka (Missail, a vagabond)
Alex Grigoriev (A Simpleton)
David Pittman Jennings (Nikitich, a police officer)
Josep Ferrer Mityukha (a peasant)
Javier Roldán (Boyar-in-attendance)
Jordi Casanova (Khrushchov, a boyar)
Ferran Ilari (Dmitri)

Orchestra Sinfònica i Cor
del Gran Teatre del Liceu


Stage Director
Willy Decker

Release Dates
July 2006

Item Code (NTSC)


With this production of Modest Mussorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov, TDK presents the most famous and widely performed of all Russian music dramas on DVD. The libretto is by Mussorgsky himself and takes the eponymous “romantic tragedy” by the celebrated Russian poet Alexander Pushkin as its starting point.

Boris Godunov is Mussorgsky's masterpiece and his only complete opera. It's a vast sprawling tapestry of Russian life, which centres on the Russian people - represented in the opera by a large and powerful chorus - rather than on the title figure. The opera describes the fate of a man at the very height of his power as the Russian tsar and heir to Ivan the Terrible. Boris is a born ruler with an innate sense of justice and love for his people. But the ghost of the nine year old tsarevich Dmitry, whose beheading Godunov himself ordered, pursues him, and his pangs of conscience drive him to madness and finally to his death.

In writing the opera, Mussorgsky tried to avoid the western influences of German and Italian opera and to stress the impressive popular and religious tradition of Russian music. As a result the score has an extraordinary power and boldness that it owes to its impressive and sombre orchestration, which reflects the spirit of the tragedy.

The staging presented on this newly released DVD was produced at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona in autumn 2004. It is based on the original version of the score, which comprised seven scenes written in 1868–9. Modern audiences are more familiar with a revised version with a re-orchestration by Rimsky-Korsakov, but this staging returns to Mussorgsky’s original intentions, which he was forced to revise due to political circumstances.

The demanding title role is performed here by the Finnish bass Matti Salminen, a compelling singer-actor with a long-standing reputation on the international opera scene. Sebastian Weigle took on this work in his first season as musical director of Barcelona’s opera house.
With its mass scenes and frequent choir appearances, this staging confirms the Liceu’s excellent reputation as one of the leading opera houses in Europe.

Willy Decker’s staging of this Ur-Boris contains two decisive elements: a large, multi-functional chair that serves as a throne and symbolizes power; and the recurrent figure of the innocent tsarevich as a symbol of the guilt that eats away at the tsar’s conscience and destroys his life. The sets are timeless, the costumes simple and the designs sober in the extreme. In the spirit of a true tragedy, the audience is asked to regard the work not as a historical chronicle, but as the expression of a universal problem that they are forced to confront in the form of a sense of un-expiated guilt that cannot be repressed. Pushkin and Mussorgsky succeeded in expressing this with great clarity and directness.