[Met Performance] CID:170660

Boris Godunov
Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, January 20, 1956

In English

Boris Godunov (133)
Modest Mussorgsky | Modest Mussorgsky
Boris Godunov
Jerome Hines

Prince Shuisky
Charles Kullman

Giorgio Tozzi

Albert Da Costa

Nell Rankin

Clifford Harvuot

Lorenzo Alvary

Paul Franke

Lawrence Davidson

Louis Sgarro

Thelma Votipka

Arthur Budney

Martha Lipton

James McCracken

Osie Hawkins

Laurel Hurley

Mildred Miller

Sandra Warfield

Charles Anthony

Boyar in Attendance
Gabor Carelli

Dimitri Mitropoulos

Dino Yannopoulos

Mstislav Dobujinsky

Zachary Solov

Translation by Gutman
Boris Godunov received eleven performances this season.
Unsigned account of rehearsal of this performance in February 1956 issue of International Musician
Rehearsed Tragedy
Lovers of opera basking in the finished product should have a look-in on a rehearsal at the Metropolitan, as this writer did on an afternoon last month. It was "Boris Godunov" in one of the earlier rehearsals and therefore still rough in spots. But it served to show the amount of human interchange that takes place even in such a business-like practice period.
When I arrived, several scene-shifts were being "practiced," canvas "pedestals" pulled up and down, "rock formations" light as feathers arranged, staircases settled in place.
Marina came in in all her satin regalia, and tested the stairs, seemed to be counting the footsteps as she made the grand descent, eyes uplifted. None of the stage hands mulling about paid the slightest attention to her. In the background someone was practicing the bells and the auditorium resounded like a church.
Now Mitropoulos entered, slightly stooped and fumbling at his turtle-neck sweater as if it were warm at the collar. The stage workers cleaned up the last of the debris with long-handled brushes. The bells stopped sounding. Masses of people dressed like courtiers trooped on the stage. One stout woman was hugging a small gilded chest like an old-fashioned trunk.
Mitropoulos was now on the podium, his bony face cast in high shadows by a floor light. He waved to certain of the orchestra men, nodded and grinned. Then he tapped the music stand with his baton and called, "Mornin, gentlemen!" A young man came up and asked him about the bells - should they be played from backstage or from the pit? An orchestra man discussed earnestly with him a point of phrasing. Then Mitropoulos tapped the stand again and called, "Ready?" The workers who had been mixing indiscriminately with the courtiers onstage, cleared off. The music started.
The satin-clothed Marina began singing with the aplomb of one facing a completely sold-out auditorium. Suddenly Mitropoulos turned his two hands inward. Complete silence ensued, like a faucet turned off. "You came in too late," he said-but smiled as he said it. "Yes, I know," she answered. They started back a few measures. As the plot unrolled, Mitropoulos' lips moved with the singers. His whole self identified with the music. When Gregory came on, there seemed to be a slowing up of the action. Mitropoulos stopped them again. He sang in a raw but dramatic voice, "Sing it out! 'Marina, it's you!' Boom!" (illustrating the part where Gregory throws down his sword). "Something must happen all the time!" he shouted excitedly. "Everything is tremolos. It drives me crazy. This is a drama with music. Be excited! 'It's you, it's you, Marina!' Boom, boom!"
At the first brief recess, more men of the orchestra went to the podium and discussed points of the music with Mitropoulos. They seemed to be quite easy with him, to like to talk with him. He, for all he was in the midst of one of the most strenuous of rehearsals, liked, obviously, to have them around him. One man reached up to light his cigarette. The maestro's craggy features shadowed into a gaunt smile.
Then back to the rehearsal. The opera was being sung in English, and it thus unraveled for all to understand. When the boys circled around the blind beggar to pester him, Mitropoulos told them, "When you use lots of words, you slow down the tempo. Why? Speak the words faster!" They tried again and it went better.
Also, it was to be noted that the characters played two parts each-that of the part they took in the cast and that of their own rehearsal selves. When in the last scene Prince Shuisky came onstage - incidentally, here was a personality in both aspects one couldn't help reckoning with-he paused in the midst of his aria and said, "There's too much backstage noise! I can't hear myself sing!" The backstage noise was stopped.
However, in spite of the singers' asides, in spite of the repetitions, in spite of the scenery that didn't stay put and the calls from the podium and the stage director coming onstage to show this one how to make way for the Czar and that one how to make love, the great plot did take hold. By the time Boris was singing his final aria, and even though instead of taking his death-tumble down the throne steps, he chose to walk gingerly down them and then go prone at the bottom, one began to feel one's spine tingle and the old magic to have its effect.
But there-the death of Boris had to be done all over again! His son Feodor didn't cry out loud enough the "He is dead!"

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