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DVD Spotlight

An Inevitable Conclusion

Musorgsky's 'Khovanshchina' -
reviewed by
ROBERT ANDERSON

'... the admirable Barcelona chorus and orchestra ...'

Musorgsky: Khovanshchina. © 2008 Opus Arte

Ilya Repin's astounding portrait of Musorgsky as debauched genius may be reason enough for his not completing this terrifying work, so that Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich, and now Voronkov with a dying-fall finale have attempted to repair the omission. As in Boris Godunov, Musorgsky's aim was to stage a pregnant slice of Russian history, that period when the youthful Tsar Peter was about to throw off the shackles imposed on him by his half-sister, the regent Sophia, in disgust at the military incompetence of her lover, Prince Golitsyn. Not only had he no truck with the Old Believers of the opera, but he also totally emasculated the patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The stage director, Stein Winge, has attempted to make the work 'a story of all places and all times' by incorporating bicycles and Soviet-style uniforms. Of course it does not work. The main result is a brochure with the set that, taken up as it with the director's lengthy apology, fails to give proper account of the work's progress and leaves unintelligible many of the libretto's references. The only hope for those unfamiliar with the magnificent work is to soak up repeatedly the helpful information contained in the 'Illustratred synopsis' and 'Cast gallery'.

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Copyright © 1 June 2008 Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt

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