Modest Musorgsky and Boris Godunov: Myths, Realities, Reconsiderations

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Caryl Emerson, a literary specialist, and Robert William Oldani, a music historian, take a new and comprehensive look at the most famous Russian opera, Musorgsky's Boris Godunov. The result is both a historical study of a famous work and an interpretative piece of scholarship. The topics discussed include: the Boris Tale in history, the strange story of the opera's composition and revision, its first productions at home and abroad, and an in-depth musical analysis. In the process, several frequent errors in Musorgsky scholarship are clarified and corrected. The volume contains a selection of classic texts in criticism, numerous production photographs, a bibliography and discography.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Emerson and Oldani's portrait of Musorgsky as composer is broad, intelligent and convincing." The Russian Review

"...a glowing example of practical scholarship...It makes history and personalities live." B.W. High Performance Review

"The latest addition to a growing body of work on Modest Musorgsky makes a major contribution. The authors, veterans in the field, have approached Musorgsky's masterpiece from multiple directions, attempting to correct long-standing errors, to challenge widely held misinterpretations, and to draw together much current thinking on the opera. The resulting volume contains outstanding scholarship and provocative new insights delivered in an effective style....As a whole the book serves two functions. First, its fine scholarship contributes substantial new material to the Musorgsky literature. Second, it serves as a handbook to the opera for any involved with it: listeners, performers, producers, or critics. Indeed, it should be required background reading for all who face the perplexing choices among versions and editions or who wish to place this complex masterpiece in perspective." Gordon D. McQuere, Notes

"Complex yet rewarding in structure and intent, the book provides an admirable range of cultural-historical, musical and textological analysis and context, as well as performance and reception history....The volume features an excellent select biography and an interesting...discography." David Shengold, Slavic and East European Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521361934
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Series: Cambridge Opera Handbooks Series
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations; List of tables; Preface and acknowledgments; Part I. Background: 1. Tsar Boris in history; 2. Musorgsky's literary sources, Karamzin and Pushkin; 3. Narrative and musical synopsis of the opera; 4. History of the composition, rejection, revision, and acceptance of Boris Godunov; 5. A tale of two productions - St. Petersburg (1874–1882), Paris (1908); Part II. Entr'acte: 6. Boris and the censor: documents; 7. The opera through the years: selected texts in criticism; Part III. Interpretation: 8. The Boris libretto as a formal, literary, and historical problem; 9. The music; 10. Boris Godunov during the jubilee decade: the 1980s and beyond; Discography; Bibliography; Index.

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