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Boris Godunov (opera)

Boris Godunov is an opera in four acts and eight scenes by Modest Moussorgsky, text founded on the drama of the same name by Aleksandr Pushkin. First produced in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1874.


Place, Russia.
Time, 1598-1605.

ACT I. Scene I is laid in front of the Novodievitchi Convent and the populace, sufficiently inspired by a police officer, are demanding that the Tzar reassume the sceptre of Russia. The secretary of the Douma comes out of the convent, and informs the crowd that the Tzar still refuses. The crowd again renews its appeal. Scene II is laid in a cell within the convent. Gregory awakes from a horrible dream. He bemoans the fate of the murdered Tzarevitch. Scene III is in the great Square between the two Cathedrals of the Assumption and the Archangels. The populace are awaiting the coming of the Tzar. He appears amid cries of joy, addresses the people, and then enters the Cathedral of the Assumption.

ACT II. Scene I is in an inn. Gregory and two monks who have escaped from the convent with him, enter. Shortly afterwards a guard appears in search of a fugitive whose description tallies with that of Gregory. He rushes from the room with the guard in pursuit. Scene II is in the Tzar's apartments in the Kremlin. Word is brought to the Tzar that Dimitri who was murdered (impersonated by Gregory) has reappeared and is rousing the people. The Tzar betrays great agony of mind.

ACT III. Scene I is in a garden before the Polish Castle of Mniscek. In a love scene between the False Dimitri and Marina, she spurs him on to lead the attack against Moscow so that he may seize the throne and make her queen. Scene Il is in the Forest of Kromy where Dimitri's army disperses a crowd of vagrants and rescues some of his adherents. Scene III is before the Kremlin. A session is being held, presided over by the Tzar to decide what judgment shall be meted out to the false Dimitri. An old peasant tells the Tzar how he was cured of blindness when praying at the tomb of the dead Tzarevitch, and the Tzar deeply impressed after counselling his son to reign wisely, prays that his great crimes may be forgiven him and falls dead.

References and external links: Plot taken from The Opera Goer's Complete Guide by Leo Melitz, 1921 version.