GP at the Met: Boris Godunov
About the Opera

The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov starring René Pape as Boris and conducted by Valery Gergiev, will air on Thirteen’s Great Performances Sunday, February 13 at 12 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). (In New York, Thirteen will air the program Thursday, February 10 at 8 p.m. ET.) Stephen Wadsworth directs the company’s first new production of the opera since 1974. The program was originally seen live in movie theaters on October 23, 2010 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 1500 movie theaters and performing arts centers in 46 countries around the world.

Watch a preview:

Adapted from a play by Alexander Pushkin about the extraordinary reign of the 16th-century tsar, Boris Godunov is regarded as one of the masterpieces of the Russian operatic repertoire. The Met’s new production of Mussorgsky’s epic political tragedy was praised by critics following the first performance on October 11: The Associated Press declared “Bravo, Boris!…a huge success on every count — from the superb cast led by bass René Pape in the title role to the inspired conducting of Valery Gergiev to the remarkably fluid and psychologically acute direction by Stephen Wadsworth.” The Wall Street Journal called the performance “an engrossing theatrical event” and cited the production as a “deeply moving, complex and tragic portrait of Russia that melds historical sweep with intimate and detailed personal encounters.” Pape “is ideal for the role” of the guilt-ridden tsar, said The New York Times, and “riveting in Boris’s death scene.”

The title role of Boris Godunov is a touchstone role for operatic basses, a tour de force for an artist who can command the requisite powerful vocal and dramatic skills. The role of Boris has been played at the Met by such legendary basses as Fyodor Chaliapin, Ezio Pinza, and George London.

René Pape has built a reputation as a consummate singing-actor at the Met, including acclaimed roles in Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal, Don Giovanni, Faust, and Don Carlo, and his American debut in the role of Boris was highly anticipated.

The new production also features a number of leading singers performing Boris Godunov for the first time at the Met. The cast includes Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko as Grigory/The Pretender Dimitri; and Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk as Princess Marina. Other notable Russian singers making their Met role debuts in this production are bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin as Rangoni, bass Mikhail Petrenko as Pimen, and tenor Oleg Balashov as Shuisky. Bass Vladimir Ognovenko reprises his portrayal of Varlaam, which he first performed with the Met in a 1997 run of performances conducted by Gergiev.

Many of the Met cast members have performed Boris Godunov with Gergiev at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater, where he is artistic director and where the opera had its 1874 premiere.

The production’s creative team includes Academy Award-nominated costume designer Moidele Bickel, prominent European set designer Ferdinand Wögerbauer, and choreographer Apostolia Tsolaki, all in their Met debuts.

The Met’s new production is primarily based on the 1875 version of the opera but will incorporate some music from the composer’s original 1869 score, notably in Boris’s Act II monologue in the Kremlin, and the entire St. Basil scene which opens Act IV. The 1874 revision is the basis for the ending of Act III, scene 2 (the end of the “Polish” act). Mussorgsky’s original orchestrations will be used.

Great Performances at the Met: Boris Godunov
is directed for television by Brian Large and hosted by soprano Patricia Racette. Jay David Saks is the music producer. The performance is sung in Russian with English subtitles.

Great Performances is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, public television viewers and PBS. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home-builder®. Major support for the Met telecast was provided by Mrs. Mona Webster.

For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.

  • macncheese

    Yes! Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!! I saw this in house, and it was one of the greatest live shows I’ve ever seen.

  • sokale

    As to Pushkin – The 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of the most scandalous book in Russian
    Literature has been just published:

    Alexander S. Pushkin Secret Journal 1836-1837

    ISBN 978-0-916201-28-9

    The hero of the work, Alexander Pushkin, presents in an encapsulated form his various sexual relations, his complex thoughts on life, the nature of sin, love, and creativity, as well as the complicated path that led him to his tragic end.

    The Secret Journal has incited and continues to incite the most contradictory responses reflected in three volumes of Parapushkinistika.
    Now published in 25 countries (, the Secret Journal deserves to be placed among the most scandalous works of Russian literature.
    In spite of the international success of Pushkin’s Secret Journal lasting now a quarter century, no major U.S. publisher has dared to publish it.

    New French ( and Spanish ( editions of the Secret Journal are being published in 2011.

  • Al Schulze

    Please tell me when I can watch this Opera on WHYY in the Philadelphia are. It says: Feb 13 at 12:00 pm. However the TV listings have something different. Your Web site is very confusing as to what is broadcast and when. Somewhere else it says it will be broadcast Feb 10 at 8:00 pm. That is not posted in the TV listing either.
    Help! I would hate to miss this one.

  • Maria Forte

    I second Al’s question. When will it be on in Philadelphia? I’ve searched every way I know of and can’t find an answer. Very frustrating.


  • david ernst

    Dear Al (and Maria!),

    We know it’s a bit tricky when the local listings don’t match up with the national air time, but with PBS it’s always a good idea to check your local listings. If you ever have a question about Great Performances or Great Performances at the Met, use the local listings search (click here). Type in your zip code and choose your PBS provider and you will get an up-to-date schedule.

    That being said, I’ve checked the schedule search “widget” and Boris Godunov will air on WHYY this Thursday in primetime at 8:00pm. Stations and markets that do not choose to air the opera in primetime will likely have an air time of Sunday at 12 or 12:30pm. But remember to always check your local listings as your station may air the program at a different time.

    Thanks for your patience!

  • Margo Gamble

    When will Boris Godunov air in the Washington, DC area ?

  • peter e snoek

    I was unable to download the performance on KQED today. Can I get it on another pbs station? I see it listed on Life. What is Life and how do I get to it.

  • Barb

    Amazing that you found it on WHYY. I emailed the station and they said it wasn’t scheduled

  • Dee

    Does anyone know if or when the DVD of this stunning performance will be released?

  • Anna

    I am not sure if it would be released but I would give anything to have a DVD copy – if anyone of you guys in the US was lucky enought to record it. Please let me know…

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