Boris Godunov (Opera)

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Music:Modest Mussorgsky
Libretto:from the play by Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Karamzin's History of the Russian State
Premiere:St. Petersburg, January 27, 1874

The most majestic of all Russian operas, Boris Godunov was considered revolutionary for its music and lyrics as well as its somber portrayal of a turbulent period in Russian history. In legend (not in fact), Boris becomes Tsar of Russia after murdering Dmitri, the rightful heir, and though he rules humanely, the land falls into chaos and poverty. The young monk Grigory convinces the neighboring Polish king that he is actually the murdered Dmitri and marries Marina, a Polish noblewoman who disguises her lust for power as passionate love. Grigory/Dmitri and the Poles invade Russia, taking power after Boris, terrified and guilt-stricken by Dmitri's apparent resurrection, dies. As a stark background, the war-torn Russian populace bitterly voices its utter misery.

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