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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THRONES DOMINATIONS AND POWERS
This production was filmed in St Petersburg, but Tarkovsky's staging was originally put on at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, which is where I saw Boris Godunov for the one and only time nearly 40 years ago. That performance, I recall, used Mussorgsky's own orchestration rather than Rimsky's revised scoring (which is certainly more professional but loses something...
Published on 22 Nov 2010 by DAVID BRYSON

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well sung but cluttered performance.
While this is well sung and acted by the principals, in the Russian style, it is more a worthy record of the opera rather than the event one would expect, given that the production was also presented at Covent Garden and other internationally renowned houses. The Kirov stage has great depth but is not shown to advantage in this 4:3 presentation. Many scenes are murkier...
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THRONES DOMINATIONS AND POWERS, 22 Nov 2010
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Boris Godunov: The Kirov Opera [DVD] [2002] [NTSC] (DVD)
This production was filmed in St Petersburg, but Tarkovsky's staging was originally put on at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, which is where I saw Boris Godunov for the one and only time nearly 40 years ago. That performance, I recall, used Mussorgsky's own orchestration rather than Rimsky's revised scoring (which is certainly more professional but loses something in the process), and so does this one. What gets lost in Rimsky's beautified and tidied-up version, I find, is the sheer sense of bigness, the feeling of the vastness of Russia and the weight of its history, that comes over from Mussorgsky's majestic crudity. With all respect to my beloved Rimsky this, and not his, is the version I wanted to hear then and I want to go on living with now.

What a mighty masterpiece this opera is! I suppose the most obvious comparison is with Don Carlo, and I don't feel that Mussorgsky loses through making it. His libretto, whatever vicissitudes it underwent in the writing, is distinctly better for one thing. It is clearer and simpler, and even if the ending is not awfully convincing the final denouement of Don Carlo is so plumb eccentric that the vote goes to Boris Godunov even there. For those like myself without knowledge of Russian I am pleased to be able to say `Don't worry that a full libretto with translation is not provided.' Between reading the synopsis and watching the screen (and the picture quality was fine for me although apparently not for everyone) you will easily be able to follow the plot, which is slow-moving and uncomplicated. It is mainly tableau opera, and although real dramatic tension is there in plentiful helpings, more of it is dialogue-drama than action.

The production and direction seem magnificent to me. It comes over as the great sombre masterpiece that I like it to be, and I have no quibbles of any significance. The ending is, I suppose, questionable. The false Dmitri returns to Moscow something like Fortinbras at the end of Hamlet, and it may be going slightly over the top to finish with the stage littered with corpses and a bloodstained axe in the foreground in case you had missed the nonexistent subtleties and innuendoes. Other than that, I thought I spotted one or two of the statues fidgeting slightly, but that could have been camera-wobble, or indeed just my imagination. What I was not imagining was the way the monk-scribe Pimen was directed right at the start of the first act, following the prologue. The orchestral effect obviously suggests the movement of the scribe's pen, so it would have been ordinary common sense to show him writing for at least part of the scene.

The named members of the cast all appear to be Russian with the solitary exception of Robert Lloyd as Boris himself. I would surmise that they all, Lloyd included, know and understand this great work with the marrow of their bones, and so does the conductor, looking decidedly youthful, not to mention the Kirov opera orchestra and chorus. The chorus often fail to be mentioned in reviews, so let me say how well they perform here. Mussorgsky's choral writing, whatever you think of his orchestration, is excellent, far better than Wagner's in The Mastersingers in my own opinion, and it is really a much less common skill. As for the solo singers, they are beyond praise. Their singing is superb musically, but magnificent also as vocal acting. They have the real gravitas and portentousness that this score calls for, portraying personae who are not just commonplace everyday individuals but the very embodiment of aspects of history. The composer gives every assistance in differentiating the various male roles, another factor in common with The Mastersingers, and it is thrilling to hear how, say, even the main religious participants - Pimen himself and the Jesuit Rangoni - come over as such distinct personalities. It is true that their activities are not marked by any great preoccupation with theology, but it is not just the freedom from that drag on their individuality that makes them so superbly dramatic. The casting deserves credit altogether. In particular the actions of Shuisky are scroobious and wily as they should be, and Olga Borodina looks and acts the part to perfection as the haughty and imperious princess Marina who demands the throne of Russia as the price of her love, if that is what we should call it. How different from the conduct of Kate Middleton, I could only reflect.

Name me a weak spot in it all. Even the liner note is not bad, with no libretto as I was saying, but with a learned and interesting little essay by John Warrack, and even a short piece on Tarkovsky by his assistant Irina Brown. The sound quality was excellent too, even on my B-speakers that I have to use for DVD's. In other words, I loved the whole experience, and this interpretation, with its majestic staging and its great-big-Volga-boatman bass voices, is how I like it done best. To the composer it was obviously a deep meditation on the fate of Russia and her peoples, but in the `west' (whatever that is) I hope that, on some days at least, we can treat it as a gorgeous great wallow.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 8 April 2003
By 
A.K.Farrar "AKF" (Timisoara, Romania) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Boris Godunov: The Kirov Opera [DVD] [2002] [NTSC] (DVD)
I picked this up almost by accident, took it home, put it on and over 2 hours latter was still glued to the screen.
The music is great - wonderfully sung and played. It is almost impossible to pick out individual performers as anything other than outstanding. The mainly Russian forces bring a depth of understanding and menaing to the words which comes over in the performance. The orchestra is subtle and responsive to some very fine conducting.
The plot is very 'Shakespearean' - complete with murdered princes and peasant pretenders to the throne with a good popular revolt too (That's Richard 3 mixed with Henry 4). There's even a funny priest and a wicked woman.
Finally the production (originally Royal Opera House) is perfect for the small screen - Tarkovski (film maker) brings strong direction and mighty fine images to stage which help bring a strong sense of character and situation.
I just loved it!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!, 29 Mar 2003
By 
A.K.Farrar "AKF" (Timisoara, Romania) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Boris Godunov: The Kirov Opera [DVD] [2002] [NTSC] (DVD)
I picked this up and bought it on impulse - what a buy!
As I started to watch the music washed over me and dragged me down into it - the plot gripped and that was it - over 200 minutes latter I was still firmly hooked.
The opera itself is Shakespearean in scope - a sort of mix of Richard 3 and Henry 4 complete with child murder and pretenders to the throne. The characters complex and given the sort of range of 'tunes' you would expect from the better sort of Russian 19th Century music. The acting uniformly good.
The music is really helped by the revealing conducting and the excellent singing - from the 'best' of Russia (and an extra you wouldn't think wasn't Russian!).
But the greatest element (if I can be so mean as to single anything out) is the production - Andrei Tarkovski stretching operatic images into his own very cinematic world -which is one of the things that makes this stage production work on the small screen!
Watch the death of Boris and feel your soul scourged!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well sung but cluttered performance., 11 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Boris Godunov: The Kirov Opera [DVD] [2002] [NTSC] (DVD)
While this is well sung and acted by the principals, in the Russian style, it is more a worthy record of the opera rather than the event one would expect, given that the production was also presented at Covent Garden and other internationally renowned houses. The Kirov stage has great depth but is not shown to advantage in this 4:3 presentation. Many scenes are murkier than necessary, with the action moving forward and back in the gloom, framed left and right by a distracting mob engaging in a great deal of unnecessary business.
As is usual with certain Russian operas, it is a series of tableaux rather than a continuous narrative. It is worth consulting Wikipedia to find out the essence of the story, skimmed over in the notes supplied.
I can recall a visually better lit production many years ago by the Canadian Opera in Toronto, where the mob deployed themselves on a wider but more shallow stage. This gave a better sense of the action as the mob moved about. At the time I thought the mob moved too much and too often but they were less distracting than the fidgeting of the otherwise static Kirov chorus.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boris Godunov, 10 April 2014
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This review is from: Boris Godunov: The Kirov Opera [DVD] [2002] [NTSC] (DVD)
This is a very well staged version of the opera and all the singers sang and played their parts well. Lloyd's acting is both pwerful and convincing.Although Mussorgsky provides a good deal of variety I found some of the material a little too frivolous. Perhaps this was done to provide a little light relief from the heavy drama, still there are plenty of highlights.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, 31 Jan 2013
By 
T. R. Cattell - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Boris Godunov: The Kirov Opera [DVD] [2002] [NTSC] (DVD)
A favourite opera of mine, it is not the easiest to bring off. Not only is the title role important, but so are numerous smaller parts and that of the chorus too. In every department this production is outstanding. Lloyd is on top form, and every other role superbly taken. The casting of the Simpleton is inspired, and the whole production has a genuine 'Russian' feel to it. Recommended without hesitation.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Performance of a Great Opera, 30 Jan 2008
By 
Nv Cooley "Norman Cooley" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Boris Godunov: The Kirov Opera [DVD] [2002] [NTSC] (DVD)
Beautifully sung, very well-acted, superbly directed. You can't go wrong with this recording. Robert Lloyd sings brilliantly and the Tarkovsky direction is of a very high standard. If you love Russian opera, if you just love opera and pageantry, this is a marvellous performance and a very enjoyable entertainment.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine production and brilliant singing, 3 Aug 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Boris Godunov: The Kirov Opera [DVD] [2002] [NTSC] (DVD)
I bought this DVD a few days ago. It is compulsive viewing,absolutly brilliant sound too.
The cast is superb. Look out for the 'demonic' Polish priest .
He is depicted as a nosferatu figure preying rather than praying.
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