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Mussorgskis monumental “national music drama” Khovanshchina in the brilliant instrumentation of Dmitri Shostakovich is regarded as one of the most important works of Russian Opera. The five-act opera about the Moscow Uprising of 1682 was unfinished and unperformed when the composer died in 1881. The national music drama, as it is subtitled received its first performance in an edition by Rimsky-Korsakov in 1886. Shostakovitch later arranged another version, first presented on 25 November 1960 at the Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov Theatre).
Young Russian director and stage designer Dmitri Tcherniakov has made himself a name as specialist in Russian opera repertoire in St. Petersburg and at the Bolschoi Theatre in Moscow and recently with a spectacular „Boris Godunow“ at the Berlin State Opera.. The acclaimed premiere of this production at the Bavarian State Opera in March 2007 started off a series of operas from the Slavic repertoire.
With renowned singers Paata Burchuladze, Doris Soffel and Klaus Florian Vogt under Kent Nagano’s musical direction, the opera is sung in Russian. It draws us into a bloody power struggle in dark Russia just before the modernist reforms of Tsar Peter the Great. Will the princely Khovansky clan triumph over the Streltsy and usher in the new era? In Mussorgsky’s musical folk drama political and religious groups face one another irreconcilably. Gigantic choral scenes make the suffering populace come to live.
The story is a timeless one and ith the music on the threshold of modernity, the opera continues to fascinate viewer until today.