[Met Tour] CID:127010

Boris Godunov
Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, November 28, 1939

In Italian

Boris Godunov (90)
Modest Mussorgsky | Modest Mussorgsky
Boris Godunov
Ezio Pinza

Prince Shuisky
Alessio De Paolis

Nicola Moscona

Charles Kullman

Kerstin Thorborg

Leonard Warren

Norman Cordon

Simpleton/Boyar in Attendance
Nicholas Massue

George Cehanovsky

Doris Doe

Giordano Paltrinieri

John Gurney

Marita Farell

Irra Petina

Anna Kaskas

Wilfred Engelman

Arnold Gabor

Ettore Panizza

Leopold Sachse

Set Designer
Alexander Golovine

Set Designer
Alexander Benois [Polish Scene only]

Costume Designer
Ivan Bilibine

Boris Romanoff

Orchestration by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Translation by M.Delines, E. Palermi, G. Pardo
Synopsis of Scenes
Act I, Scene 1: The wall of Novodievitchi Convent, in the Great Environs of Moscow
Act I, Scene 2: A cell in the Convent of Miracles
Act I, Scene 3: The square between the two Cathedrals of the Assumption and of the Archangels
Act II, Scene 1: An inn on the frontier of Lithuania
Act II, Scene 2: Apartments of the Czar in the Kremlin at Moscow
Act III, Scene 1: Room of Marina in the Castle of Michek, Poland
Act III, Scene 2: Garden of the Castle
Act IV, Scene 1: The forest of Kromy
Act V, Scene 2: Hall of the Duma in the Kremlin
Boris Godunov received six performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Samuel L. Laciar in the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger

Metropolitan Opens Season Here

The Metropolitan Opera Association opened its Philadelphia season last evening at the Academy of Music, before an unusually brilliant audience which filled the house to capacity. The opera selected by General Manager Edward Johnson was Moussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" with Ezio Pinza in the title role and an exceptionally strong surrounding cast.

Mr. Pinza proved to be a splendid successor to the late Feodor Chaliapin, who had made the role his own for many years. Not only was his magnificent voice heard throughout to great advantage, but his development of the tragic role left nothing to be desired. The music of "Boris" is by no means lyric except in the second of the "Polish Scenes." There is much use of melodious recitative of which Mr. Pinza proved himself to be a thorough master.

The dramatic requirements of the title role are far more exacting than the vocal ones. Nearly every human emotion is demanded with the exception of humor, and Mr. Pinza was superb in such contrasting scenes as that at the close of the second act, where Boris, half-crazed, imagines he sees before him the form of the Tsarewich whom he had caused to be murdered in order that he himself be chosen Tsar and the immense pathos of the death scene which closed the music drama. His interpretation was received throughout with great and well-deserved applause, but especially at the close of the second and fourth acts.

The Metropolitan has the immense advantage of having secondary roles filled by singing actors, who in any other company would be singing leading ones. This was fully exemplified last evening, and another pleasing feature was the young American singers who are being developed under Mr. Johnson's regime, such as Charles Kullman and Norman Cordon, whose work will be discussed later.

While Boris is the leading character of the music drama, there are nevertheless, many other roles of importance. The work, as a whole, lacks dramatic continuity, being a series of intensely nationalistic Russian pictures. But this lack was scarcely noticed in the unified presentation last evening.

Mr. Kullman as Gregory (the False Dimitri) revealed a beautiful tenor voice, and dramatically he has made tremendous strides in his art. He, together with Marina, beautifully sung by the handsome Kerstin Thororg, have almost the only sustained melodic passages of the opera, the duet (in the Italian style) which closes the third act.

Mr. Cordon as Varlaam, the renegade monk, almost the only humorous character of the opera, was impressive in appearance, action and voice and sang the well-known "Siege of Kazan" admirably. The role of Missail, the other unfrocked monk, was well taken by Giordano Paltrinieri.

Alessio de Paolis, one of the best character artists that the Metropolitan has ever had, gave the character of Schuisky an importance that it has not previously had in this city. Although Schuisky played a leading sinister part in the life of Boris, Mr. de Paolis' action at the close, after the death of Boris, in mounting the dais containing throne, although he did not actually sit on it, was one of the many very fine minor touches with which last evening's performance was studded.

Nicola Moscona, one of the recent additions to the Metropolitan's roster, showed a beautiful and sonorous bass voice as Brother Pimen; his narrative of the second scene of the first act, which gave Gregory the idea of posing as the murdered Tsarewich, was splendidly done and his action was also excellent, although the role makes few demands in this respect. Nicholas Massue, as the Simpleton, was effective in voice and action.

Of the female characters besides Mme Thorborg as Marina, the chief ones were Irra Petina as Teodoro the son, and Marita Farell as Xenia, the daughter of Boris. Miss Petina was thoroughly competent in all respects and her Russian dance while singing her jovial song with the Nurse, well sung by Anna Kaskas, brought spontaneous applause. Miss Farell in a minor role made the most of it. Doris Doe as the innkeeper was vocally excellent, especially in her song about the Drake, and her dramatic work was as good as her singing.

The lesser roles were well taken by George Cehanovsky as Secretary of the Duma; Leonard Warren as Rangoni, a Jesuit who tries to persuade Marian to exercise her wiles to get Gregory to convert Russia to Catholicism; John Gurney as a police official, and Wilfred Engelman and Arnold Gabor as two Jesuits.

But the work of the cast was only a part of the excellence of last evening's performance. "Boris" is largely a choral opera, and the chorus, which was exceptionally large, sang superbly, showing the results achieved by Fausto Cleva, the chorus master. The tone was beautiful in quality, massive in volume and several times the effect was little short of overwhelming.

Much credit must also be given to the stage director, Leopold Sachse, for many refinements of settings and lighting, and he was probably responsible for the fine touches of choral posture and action.

Before the [start] of the final act, Mr. Johnson made a short address. He said that he felt himself to be a Philadelphian because of the degree of Doctor of Music conferred upon him last June by the University of Pennsylvania. He thanked the members of the various local committees for the work which they had done for the Metropolitan in this city, mentioning Mrs. George Horace Lorimer, Dr. Herbert J. Tily, Mrs. Alexander Biddle, Mrs. Randall Morgan and others, but especially the audience upon whose support the organization here must depend. He paid a feeling tribute to the late Artur Bodanzky and said that at the close of the present season he hoped that the Philadelphia audience would feel satisfied with the works presented and would continue its support for many coming seasons.

Search by season: 1939-40

Search by title: Boris Godunov,

Met careers