Friday, October 24, 2008

Boris Godunov

Modest Mussorgsky's "original" 1869 stripped-down version of his famous Russian opera, "Boris Godunov" opened on a warm Wednesday evening at the San Francisco Opera, and the reviews are all over the place. (Click here for "The Opera Tattler" who wasn't all that amused, click here for Joshua Kosman at SFGate who was enthralled, and click here for Janos Gereben at SFCV who was longing for the plusher, later version of the opera.)

In the first three scenes of the opera, I make cameo appearances as a religious pilgrim, a priest (above) at the coronation of the Tsar, and a monk in various hot, uncomfortable outfits and a serious beard.

It's all worth it for the Coronation scene where Frank and I carry a large, gold prop bible to the front of the stage, kneel and then listen to Samuel Ramey sing his monologue in my ear, followed by 80 choristers singing variations on "Slava." We've been instructed at the finale of the scene to walk with our monster bible to the edge of the stage over the orchestra pit, but the vertigo induced by being in the middle of this huge vortex of sound created by the orchestra and chorus is almost overwhelming. I'm afraid we're going to topple into the orchestra pit and kill ourselves. You have six more chances to see if that happens.


The Opera Tattler said...

I certainly hope you don't topple over, though as an opera disaster, that would be pretty impressive.

Nancy Ewart said...

I saw the preview last Sunday afternoon and thought it was pretty good. But where you there? We didn't have opera glasses so we couldn't see anybody since we were sitting up in the gods. That picture of you is a hoot! But - as much as I like Ramey- I thought he was a bit off. However, the chorus rock! Salva indeed.

momo said...

Samuel Ramey singing in your ear! Wow!

AlbGlinka said...

Hello sir: Your blog is very interesting! You have a long beard!! How long did it take to grow it?


Civic Center said...

Dear Albglinka: Thank you for your interest. The beard took about ten seconds to grow with the magic of theater. We miss you backstage, though honestly I'm ready for a serious opera break.

Christine Okon said...

Dear Michael,
What a wonderful Russian priest you make! Slava to you, honey. I will see BG Nov 12. Please don't fall.