Vladivostok, Primorsky Stage, Great Hall

Boris Godunov

Opera by Modest Musorgsky

Performed in Russian (the performance will have synchronised Russian and English supertitles)
Pushkin – 225



Pavel Smelkov

Boris Godunov: Marat Mukhametzyanov
Pimen: Sergei Pleshivtsev
The Pretender: Roman Krukovich
Shuisky: Alexei Kostyuk
Varlaam: Anatoly Badayev
Andrei Shchelkalov: Dmitry Migulyov
Misail: Yevgeny Mizin
The Simpleton: Ilya Astafurov
Xenia: Anastasia Gensler
Bailiff: Gennady Akhmedov
Hostess of the Inn: Laura Bustamante
A Neighbouring Boyar: Vsevolod Marilov
Xenia’s nurse: Elena Glushenko
Mityukha: Dmitry Nelasov
Cheerful Boy: Vladislav Chibirev


Music by Modest Musorgsky
Libretto by the composer after the tragedy of the same name by Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Karamzin´s tragedy The History of the Russian State

Musical Director: Valery Gergiev
The stage version is based on the play by Andrei Tarkovsky
Adaptation Director for the Primorsky Stage: Sergei Bogoslavsky
Lighting Adaptation for the Primorsky Stage: Natalya Tyurina
Video content: Pyotr Okunev
Musical Preparation: Alexey Tikhomirov
Principal Chorus Master: Larisa Shveikovskaya
Assistant Director: Anna Dronnikova


Novodevichy Monastery.
1598. Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich has died without an heir. Boris Godunov had been the de facto ruler under Fyodor’s reign, having shown exceptional wisdom in the cause of the Russian State. He tried to claim the throne but the boyars – of more noble birth than Godunov – resisted him, spreading ill tales about him and that it was he who ordered the death of Tsarevich Dmitry in Uglich, the legal heir to the throne and the younger son of Ivan the Terrible.
In order to achieve his desired aims, Boris ostensibly removes himself and his family to the Novodevichy Monastery; Godunov’s adherents have assembled the people to “ask Boris to be Tsar”. The people reluctantly obey, expressing apathy and indifference to what is happening. Shchelkalov, the scribe of the Boyars’ Council, declares that Boris is adamant in his resolution. However, the Patriarch and the boyars close to Godunov nonetheless “beg” him to ascend the throne.
A bailiff announces the boyars’ decree: “Be in the Kremlin on the morrow and await orders.”

A square in the Kremlin.
Godunov is crowned Tsar. Boris has achieved everything he wanted but… “My heart laments, some kind of unbidden fear has filled my heart with a premonition of evil.” Tsar Boris yields before the “exultant people”. Can he be won over?

Pimen’s cell in the Chudov Monastery.
“One more tale and my manuscript is complete…” The young monk Grigory awakes from a troubled dream: for the third time he has seen himself ascending a steep staircase in his sleep, looking over Moscow and falling downwards: “I became both ashamed and frightened…”
Grigory is troubled that he does nothing at the monastery. He envies Pimen for the rich tapestry of events that occurred in his younger days. He is particularly interested in the death of the young Tsarevich in Uglich. “He was the same age as you and reigned,” Pimen answers. Pimen’s words about the murder of the Tsarevich on the orders of Boris Godunov open a fiendish plan to Grigory.

An inn at the Lithuanian border.
The wandering Varlaam and Misail are joined by Grigory, who has fled the monastery. The innkeeper tells him how to get into Lithuania without passing the guards.
Guards appear unexpectedly in the hope of profiting from the monks’ “weaknesses”: who are they and where are they from? Wishing to alarm them, the guards produce a decree for the capture of the “heretic Grishka Otrepiev”. In order to remain incognito Grigory offers to read the decree and names Varlaam’s features instead of his own. The indignant Varlaam reads the decree for himself. Grigory flees.

A terem in the Moscow Kremlin.
Tsarevna Xenia mourns her dead husband, while Tsarevich Fyodor examines the map of Russia.
With his family Boris Godunov is good and kind. But he cannot dismiss his gloomy thoughts: “I have supreme power. I have reigned in peace for six years. But my soul knows no rest…”
Informed by Prince Shuisky of the Pretender in Lithuania calling himself Dmitry, Godunov loses his self-control. He insists that Shuisky confirm the death of the young Dmitry in Uglich. The Prince’s detailed story is agony for Boris. 

The square in front of St Basil’s in Moscow.
Prior to a service in the cathedral, where Grishka Otrepiev is being denounced and eternal prayers are being said for the Tsarevich Dmitry, the people are discussing the rumour that the Tsarevich was saved and his troops are close to Moscow.
The imperial procession begins. The people pray and demand “Bread! Bread! Bread for the hungry!”
The Simpleton interrupts the Tsar’s procession. Another wound to Godunov’s soul: “We must not pray for a tyrant Tsar!”

Night. The Chamber of Facets in the Kremlin.
An emergency meeting of the Boyars’ Council: the Pretender’s army is close to Moscow.
The boyars are worried at Shuisky’s account of the Tsar’s illness. Boris is overcome with superstition, suspicion and fear.
Shuisky tells the tortured and suffering Boris to listen to Pimen’s tale of how a blind monk was cured over the grave of St Dmitry.
Boris has lost his self-control. Sensing the end is nigh he calls his son and orders him to “Remain pure, Fyodor, purity is your strength and power, the fortress of your reason and your salvation…”
Tsar Boris dies.


To enjoy Boris Godunov by one’s own eyes is a dream of any opera lover. Along with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Boris Godunov has become the most performed Russian opera in the world.

This masterpiece comes in a dozen various versions. On the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre, the opera is presented in its first version (1869), which reflects the composer’s initial conception most closely. It is devoid of the love line with Marina Mniszech, the Polish act with dances and the Kromy civilian revolt scene. In this version, the focus is placed on the main character: the opera begins with the decision to crown Boris Godunov and ends with his death.

The stage version of the opera is based on Andrei Tarkovsky’s legendary 1983 London production, his only opera directing experience. Since 1990, upon initiative of Valery Gergiev, it has been staged at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The opera was transferred and adapted to the Primorsky Stage by Sergei Bogoslavsky, who has supplemented the production with video projections by Pyotr Okunev. This version was first performed in the summer of 2022 at the VII International Mariinsky Far East Festival; maestro Gergiev took the conductor’s stand, and Ildar Abdrazakov, the top Russian bass among the whole generation, performed the part of Boris Godunov. Now the opera is successfully presented by the Primorsky Stage soloists.

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes
The performance has no interval

Age category 12+

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