Boris Godunov - Musorgsky – Royal Opera House
This one act seven scene version of modest Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov is incredibly powerful in its own right, but when it is cast with an outstanding group of singers the musicality is hugely enhanced, as was the case on this night – even if there was not a complete Russian born cast.
The only Russian of note was Boris Pinkhasovich as Andre the Clerk of the Boyars Council, whose excellent vocal qualities shone through. Both Jeremy White as Nikitich the Police Officer and Adrian Clark as Mituka the Peasant were vocally on top form in their roles, as was the tenor Roger Honeywell as Prince Shuisky. The tenor, David Butt Philip, was a forceful Grigory, as was Alan Ewing as the Frontier Guard and Sam Furness as the Yurodivy the Holy Fool. The two Monks also played their parts with Harry Nicoll as Missail whose rendition of ‘The Spoons’ was nerve-wrackingly accurate and the wonderful John Tomlinson as Varlaam. A real luxury casting.
This leaves us with the two most outstanding vocal contributions of the night - the Pimen (a Monk and Chronicler) of the incredible British bass Matthew Rose. This aristocratic deep bass sound resonated throughout the auditorium. This was a true quality performance of a singer at the height of his powers and was only matched by the frighteningly menacing bass baritone of Bryn Terfel. His authoritative large vocal sound was prominent throughout the evening, although perhaps not quite at the peak of his powers as he was a few years ago at the opening of Richard Jones’s new production of this opera. His ability to produce great vocal attacks and his intense growling at his guilt and lack of mercy was operatic intensity at its highest. This was an outstanding performance by this great Welsh singer.
The whole of the musical evening was driven by the Conductor Mark Albrecht, who is somewhat of a specialist in this work and drove the 80 odd Chorus to heights unheard of previously with this opera.
The two tiered set by Richard Jones and the great coloured costumes of the Chorus have stood the test of time over the years.
An outstanding musical event of the highest quality.