[Met Tour] CID:128630

Boris Godunov
Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts, Thu, April 4, 1940

In Italian

Boris Godunov (95)
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
Anthony Marlowe

George Cehanovsky

Doris Doe

Giordano Paltrinieri

John Gurney

Marita Farell

Irra Petina

Anna Kaskas

Wilfred Engelman

Arnold Gabor

Ettore Panizza

Review 1:

Review signed C. W. D. in the Boston Globe


Ezio Pinza Portrays the Czar in 'Boris Godunov'

"Boris Godunov," one of the most eagerly anticipated bills of the Metropolitan Opera Association's present visit, was enthusiastically applauded at the Boston Operas House last night. The unique masterpiece by old Russia's erratic genius, Modeste Moussorgsky, was movingly presented with Ezio Pinza dominating the evening as the tragic Czar.

"Boris" must have the strangest history of any opera. It exists in several versions, and since Russian is a tongue not of common operatic currency, it is generally, as last night, sung in Italian. Nor has "Boris" entered in to the wide and sustained popularity to which its merits have just claim. Last night's performance was only the eighth in Boston, coming oddly enough just 24 years and one day after the Metropolitan introduced it to the city. Adamo Didur taking the title part in 1916. It was last given here in 1932.

Moussorgsky's libretto must be as confusing to non-Slavic people as his music moves and thrills. Based largely on scenes written in verse and prose by Pushkin, it tells episodically of Russian history in the years 1598 to 1606.

The instinctive but ill-schooled musical genius of Moussorgsky joined these fragments into a semblance of unity. And what a marvelous score he created! Although the revision by Rimsky-Korsakoff, used in Metropolitan performances, reputedly took off a lot of Moussorgsky's crudities, it did not kill the flavor of race and country. The score alternates from the affecting simplicity of folksongs to the splendor of the music accompanying the pageantry of the scenes of the populace first hailing and them denouncing Boris and that accompanying the scene of coronation.

In every measure except Vaarlam's rowdy song of the siege of Kazan, and the play of the Czar's children, exists a sense of gathering doom. And when the tormented Boris cowers with hallucinations of the dead prince, Moussorgsky's diabolically clever depiction of a disordered brain sends the shivers down one's back. The garden scene is probably the weakest of all.

Ezio Pinza's Boris was beautifully sung, and his acting skillful. This reviewer never saw Chaliapin and therefore cannot make a comparison with the greatest of all Borises, but it did seem that Mr. Pinza's portrayal fell a bit short of complete illusion.

Mr. Kullman as Dmitri and Mme. Thorborg's Marina were finer musically than dramatically. Mr. De Paolis did well with Shuisky, and Norman Cordon's Vaarlem was comic.

The Metropolitan stages "Boris" ingeniously, though the movement of the crowds is a problem not fully solved. The use of Italian may seem strange, but what other tongue could be used? A cosmopolitan cast singing English would not be successful.

Mr. Penza added another fine reading to the list he has done here. In no small part the vitality of the performance stemmed from his conducting. Incidentally he has restored the so-called "first Polish scene," seldom given.

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