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The Met Live in HD presents ‘Boris Godunov’

Dan Webster

Above: René Pape stars in The Met Live in HD production of the opera “Boris Godunov.” (Photo/Metropolitan Opera)

You can be excused for not recognizing the name Boris Godunov. Not everyone is familiar with either Russian history or literature.

For the record, Godunov is the name of the Russian tsar who rose to power through questionable means and lived to reign from 1598 to 1605. His death preceded what is known as the country’s “Time of Troubles.”

Thanks Wikipedia.

Godunov’s reign has been marked by several works of art, beginning with Alexander Pushkin’s play “Boris Godunov,” which the composer Modest Mussorgsky adapted as an opera that premiered in 1874 in Saint Petersburg.

It is that very opera that was performed last month by New York’s Metropolitan Opera and is now part of “The Met: Live in HD” series. As such, the film version will be screened next week at two area Regal Cinemas theaters: Northtown Mall and Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone Stadium.

The two-hour-40-mnutes screenings begin at 9:55 a.m. on Saturday at both theaters, while screenings at 1 and 6:30 p.m. will begin the following Wednesday at Northtown alone.

Mussorgsky’s work has been produced over the decades in various forms, including one that The Met put on in 2010 that ran nearly four and a half hours. This shorter version was, nevertheless, well received by New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe.

“This is by no means an abbreviated ‘Boris,’ ” Woolfe wrote. “But conducted with cool, efficient clarity and seriousness by Sebastian Weigle, it is certainly a lithe evening, a sour shot of a demanding, easily manipulated populace and the leader that the crowd alternately acclaims and reviles: the title character, privately tormented by guilt at having come to power by murdering the 8-year-old heir to the throne.”

Russian history and literature, involving an ambitious ruler and his ruthless drive for power? All set to soaring music sung in Russian (with subtitles)?

I can sense area opera fans already breathy with anticipation.

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