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MET broadcast of Mussorgsky's "Khovanshchina"


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#1 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 01:23 PM

Did anyone listen to the MET's live broadcast yesterday of Mussorgsky's "Khovanshchina" ?. I listened to the whole thing while baking myself at the beach, and loved its superb musical score, as well the historical setting. The plot of Khovanshchina deals with eternal themes of a power struggle. Ivan Khovansky is the head of the Russian guardsmen, the Streltsy, who are allied with the Old Believers, the breakaway, reactionary sect that prefers life the way it used to be. They oppose the artistocratic Boyars and the reforms that are looming under the future Tsar. Among the cast, I really liked Ukrainian bass Anatoli Kotscherga as Ivan Khovansky, the leader of a conspiracy against Peter the Great and Mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina as Marfa, a fortune-telling member of the Old Believers.
Looking forward to get me a DVD of the opera now..! Posted Image

#2 Birdsall

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 04:18 AM

I didn't listen, but I have watched it on laserdisc a long time ago! It is a fascinating opera about the Russian people, but you don't really get a good feel about any one character. I believe the laser disc (remember those?) had a young Olga Borodina as Marfa. She is one of my favorite mezzos. I bet she sang well on Saturday!

It is nice the Met is doing some Russian operas. I wish they had done Khovanschina as one of their HD transmissions. I would have preferred to see that over some of the ones they did this season.

Did you see their recent Boris Godunov in HD? I loved Rene Pape as Boris, and some people hated the very simple production, but I liked it. I am hoping that gets transferred to a commercial video in the future.

#3 Birdsall

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 04:19 AM

What I was trying to say is that there aren't really any characters that you feel you get to know well in Khovanschina the way you get to know Boris Godunov, for example. All of the characters stay 1 dimensional.

#4 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 05:23 AM

BB...I really didn't get to get a full "visual" idea of the whole thing. It was my first time listening to this opera, so I had to rely on the info given pre-scenes by the commentators, plus I was semi-sleepy in the sand. The music, though, I found beautiful, with all those dark tones and the occasional folk tunes. The solos for the men were particularly attractive.

#5 dirac

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 05:07 PM

Just bumping this up - I, too, would be curious to hear from anyone who heard it.

#6 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 07:06 PM

Tonight I went to a wall broadcast of Don Giovanni-(the 1979 film with beautiful Te Kanawa as Donna Elvira)- and once more, I confess my inability to place Mozart over the more dark, bombastic sounds of other opera composers. Mussorgsky's work gave me, musically, a different kind of depth I miss from Mozart's flourishing melodies...

#7 Birdsall

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 04:18 AM

Mozart is much earlier, so music was different. I think Mozart is a little harder to sit through for today's audiences. I love Mozart arias. If a famous soprano or mezzo that I like releases a disc of Mozart arias I will buy it in a heart beat, but I have to honestly say that I find most of Mozart's opera really hard to sit through. I refer to them as "talky" or "conversational" operas, b/c so many recitatives. I think Mozart works better in a small theater and done in translation (singing in whatever language of the country it is performed). But his arias are glorious. Doubt I will ever sit through another Magic Flute though. That bores me to tears. I find sitting through Wagner's entire 15 hour Ring Cycle a breeze compared to sitting through the Magic Flute (even the condensed Family version Magic Flute gets me nodding off).

#8 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 04:40 AM

BB...funny you just said that. I remember some seasons ago, when FGO did "Flute" the last time I knew, after the whole thing was done, that I wasn't prepared for another run of it for a long time ahead...Posted Image . Perhaps if I was to be in a charming little Viennese baroque theater and with the right costume and settings designs-(no modern historic transpositions, please!! Posted Image )-I could bring myself to get immersed in the allure of the times and it could work, I guess....

#9 Birdsall

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 04:47 AM

Only problem is European opera companies (much more than American) are more likely to do a crazy production. Regietheater is what we call it. If a European opera company actually had traditional sets for an opera that would actually be incredibly RADICAL today! LOL LOL LOL

#10 Birdsall

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 04:58 AM

Fiordiligi is my favorite Mozart character (Cosi Fan Tutte). She is so shocked and stunned that two strangers (who are actually her sister's and her boyfriends) come to woo them. She protests a little too much. Her aria "Come scoglio" is a send up of the baroque era's storm arias. She sings high and low claiming to be steady as a rock, despite the fact that the vocal line is going up and down, up and down. Mozart was a genius the way he created such a contrast between words and music. Of course, he had a soprano who had really good low notes when he created the role.

If you hear Fiordiligi sung by a light soprano without a solid, dark lower register you won't like Fiordiligi, but if you hear it sung by a soprano with a really wonderful lower register the aria comes alive and makes so much sense. Carol Vaness was lovely in this role, b/c she had a dark sound. This is someone protesting too much. What she says is the opposite of what is going to happen. She is NOT going to remain steady as a rock. I love this character so much. I think it is such a human character. We all try to be "good" but we all surprise ourselves when we fail to live up to our own expectations. One of my favorite characters in all of opera. However, I tend to yawn a lot and fall asleep during Cosi Fan Tutte. It is the weirdest thing. I love Mozart arias but find his full-length opera a real trial to endure. I do sit up and pay attention during Fiordiligi's arias and duets!


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