Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov

Kasper Holten (stage director), Riccardo Chailly (conductor) — With Ildar Abdrazakov (Boris Godunov), Lilly Jørstad (Fyodor), Anna Denisova (Kseniya), Norbert Ernst (Vasiliy Shuysky) …

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Kasper Holten — Stage director

Es Devlin — Scenography

Ida Marie Ellekilde — Costumes

Jonas Bǿgh — Lighting

Luke Halls — Video

Ildar Abdrazakov — Boris Godunov

Lilly Jørstad — Fyodor

Anna Denisova — Kseniya

Agnieszka Rehlis — Kseniya's nurse

Norbert Ernst — Vasiliy Shuysky

Alexey Markov — Shchelkalov

Ain Anger — Pimen

Dmitry Golovnin — Grigorij Otrepev

Stanislav Trofimov — Varlaam

Alexander Kravets — Misail

Maria Barakova — The Innkeeper

Yaroslav Abaimov — The yuródivïy

Program notes

At the beginning of the 17th century, the Russian Empire is shaken by a scramble for power following the death of Tsar Fyodor I: it is the Time of Troubles… Milan’s La Scala opens its 2022-23 opera season with the five-act drama Boris Godunov, staged by Kasper Holten, conducted by inimitable Maestro Riccardo Chailly in his ninth season opener at the prestigious venue, and starring Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role!

Mussorgsky’s masterpiece is not a random choice: it bears echoes of Verdi’s Macbeth, which opened the previous season, and holds a special place in La Scala’s history. The first Italian staging of Boris Godunov took place here in 1909, and in 1979, Claudio Abbado—assisted by none other than a young Chailly himself—opened the Scala season with a memorable production of this classic drama, under the direction of the legendary Juri Ljubimov.  

Holten’s staging and Es Devlin’s set design highlight the thematic core of the plot, by connecting Pushkin’s drama—from which the libretto was taken—with a Shakespearian inspiration: Boris Godunov, played by world-renowned bass Abdrazakov, is suffering from remorse over the assassination of the legitimate heir to the throne, the Tsarevich Dmitri; meanwhile, a young vagrant-monk (played by Dmitry Golovnin), pretending to be the prince, persuades the King of Poland to invade the Russian territories. While the country descends into chaos, the Tsar descends into madness…

In this plot brimming with violence and intrigue, where personal and collective history intersect, a five-star cast captivates from start to finish, including Ain Anger—impeccable in the role of the chronicler Pimen—the remarkable Anna Denisova as the delicate Ksenyia, and Norbert Ernst as the prince Vasiliy Shuysky.

Ildar Abrazakov appears courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon.

Photo © Marco Brescia & Rudy Amisano

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