[Met Performance] CID:287780

Boris Godunov
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, March 19, 1987

Boris Godunov (237)
Modest Mussorgsky | Modest Mussorgsky
Boris Godunov
Paul Plishka

Prince Shuisky
Thomas Booth

Sergei Koptchak

Vladimir Popov

Cleopatra Ciurca

Morley Meredith

Ara Berberian

Anthony Laciura

Andrij Dobriansky

James Courtney

Arthur Thompson

Joyce Castle

Charles Anthony

Philip Booth

Harolyn Blackwell

Matthew Fish

Geraldine Decker

Boyar in Attendance/Khrushchov
Mark Baker

David Bernard

Gary Bachlund

James Conlon

Review 1:

Review of Bill Zakariasen in the Daily News

The Russians Are Here!

Any good performance of Modest Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" can be a profoundly moving experience, and that's just what happened Thursday night, when the Metropolitan Opera presented "Boris" again with several cast changes. No surprise - the Met these days seems more able to round up a superior lineup of singers for Russian operas than for the standard Italian ones.

The new Boris on Thursday was bass Paul Plishka - for 20 years one of the most dependable singers on the Met's roster. "Dependable" is hardly the way to describe his performance, however - though his physique doesn't permit him to dominate the stage in the manner of the six-foot-seven Mardi Talvela, Plishka in all other respects created one of the most impressive and especially convincing Borises the Met has featured in many a year. Plishka has a splendidly-schooled, perfectly-responsive voice which, to my knowledge, has never failed him in any assignment. This permitted him to sing the part with a fluency and accuracy seldom encountered - in his delivery of the "Clock" scene, for instance, he actually sang more of the correct notes than I've heard from anyone since the great Alexander Kipnis recorded it.

Plishka's interpretation of this difficult role was no less compelling. Here was a most heartbreakingly pathetic tsar, a creature of circumstance whose entire world is crushing around him. Plishka seemed to be playing the historical Boris, who unlike what is implied in the opera, was actually innocent of ordering the Tsarevich Dimitri's murder. Every gesture was totally believable, climaxing in a last-act farewell to his son which hasn't been more movingly delivered in my experience. A great performance.

In this evening's game of bass musical chairs, Sergei Koptchak took over Plishka's previous role of Pimen - his cavernous voice has a welcome cutting edge which allowed every one of the monk's five long narrations to unfold in all their crucial meanings. Then Ara Berberian appeared in Koptchak's accustomed role of the sleazy friar Varlaam, rotund in sound and showing a winning sense of fun - his drunk scene was a gem.

The new Marina was mezzo Cleopatra Ciurca, who sang with plummy tone and acted with a nice helping of sinister sex appeal. Baritone Morley Meredith did another one of his great Boris Karloff send-ups as the Jesuit-turned-pimp Rangoni, and tenor Vladimir Popov repeated his first-class Grigori. In two tenor firsts, Thomas Booth was a strong Shuisky, and Anthony Laciura sang touchingly as the Simpleton. The chorus was excellent, and James Conlon's conducting squeezed optimum drama from the score, as well as some beautiful orchestral tone - particularly in the string contingent

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