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22 June 2022 (Wed), 19:00 World famous Bolshoi Ballet and Opera theatre (established 1776) - Marvellous Main (Historic) Stage - ! PREMIERE ! Opera Modest Mussorgsky "Khovanshchina" (opera in five acts) Tickets available only at

Book tickets for this performance Ticket prices before the discount: from US$ 317 to US$ 571 per ticket

Schedule for Modest Mussorgsky "Khovanshchina" (opera in five acts) 2022

Composer: Modest Mussorgsky
Chorus Master: Valery Borisov
Director: Simon McBurney
Set Designer: Rebecca Ringst

Opera company: Bolshoi Opera
Orchestra: Bolshoi Theatre Symphony Orchestra

Opera in 5 acts

Premiere of this production: 22 June 2022, Bolshoi Theatre, Historic Stage

Libretto by the composer

Conductor: Tugan Sokhiev
Stage Director: Simon McBurney
Set and Costume Designer: Rebecca Ringst
Video Designer: Will Duke
Chief Chorus Master: Valery Borisov

Time: The year 1682
Place: Moscow

Background and Theme: The principal theme of Khovanshchina is stated outright in the choral number "Akh, ty Rodnaya, Matushka Russ" ("Oh poor Motherland"), which laments that Russia is bleeding and dying not because of a foreign enemy, but because of fragmentation within. Something like a three-way civil war is in progress. Tsar Peter is modernizing, and two powerful forces are resisting his changes: the Streltsy and the Old Believers. The Streltsy are decommissioned elite soldiers/guards ("Streltsy" literally means "shooters", just like "musketeers"), past their prime and on indefinite furlough. They are fanatically loyal to Prince Ivan Khovansky. The Old Believers are Russian Orthodox Christians who have left the state-sponsored church because it went along with Tsar Peter's changes. Their leader is Dosifey. Fortunately for Tsar Peter, these two factions despise each other, as the Streltsy are rowdy degenerates and the Old Believers are pious ascetics. Each of the three principal basses in the opera believes himself to represent the "true" Russia against her internal enemies: Prince Ivan Khovansky by noble birth and military prowess, Dosefei by religion, and Shaklovity by supporting Tsar Peter.
Act 1
Moscow, Red Square
Shaklovity, a Boyar and agent for Tsar Peter, dictates a letter to the Tsar, warning of a rebellion planned by Prince Ivan Khovansky (captain of the Streltsy Guards) and the Old Believers. He conceals himself as Prince Ivan arrives. Prince Ivan promises an adoring crowd that he will defend the "young Tsars", by whom he means Tsar Peter's conservative rivals within the royal family. He and the crowd exit. Prince Andrey, Ivan's son, chases in Emma, a German girl, intending to assault her. Marfa, an Old Believer, interferes. Andrey threatens to kill Emma, but Prince Ivan returns, and decides to capture Emma himself. The ensuing quarrel between father and son is interrupted by the arrival of Dosifey, the leader of the Old Believers. Dosifey reproves everyone for being so quarrelsome and un-Christian. Marfa leaves with Emma.
Act 2
Summer study of Prince Vasily Golitsin
Golitsin, a nervous progressive nobleman, hires Marfa to tell his fortune in secret. She predicts that he will fall from power. After she leaves, Golitsin orders his servants to kill her. Prince Ivan Khovansky disrespects Golitsin by entering without waiting to be announced, and complains loudly that Golitsin has been interfering with his friends in the nobility. A quarrel ensues, each making insulting remarks about the other's military campaigns, but Dosifey enters and draws their attention away from their argument by criticising both of them—Golitsin for his modern views, and Prince Ivan for letting the Streltsy get drunk and run around making trouble all the time. Marfa, who has been saved by the Tsar's guards, reappears, followed by Shaklovity, who menacingly announces that the Tsar has been warned of the planned rebellion, and has issued orders to arrest the Princes Khovansky. At this unlikely moment, the curtain falls.
Act 3
The Streltsy Quarter, south of the Moscow River
Marfa is overheard singing of her love, by Susanna, a fellow Old Believer. Susanna scolds Marfa until Dosifey appears and drives Susanna away. Marfa admits to Dosifey that she loves Andrey Khovansky (the one she restrained from assaulting Emma). Dosifey tells her to pray for relief. They exit and Shaklovity, who until now had been presented as a purely threatening character, sings a haunting prayer for troubled Russia's protection from the Streltsy (he refers to them as "mercenaries") and from the rebellious powers they obey. Hearing them coming he exits; some of the Streltsy enter and sing a drinking chorus. The scribe arrives and informs them that Hungarian troops are invading, and that Tsar Peter's bodyguard fought with the foreigners against the Streltsy—Russian soldiers and foreign soldiers killing other Russian soldiers together. Ivan Khovanski enters and begs their forgiveness for the defeat.
Act 4
Scene 1: A richly furnished chamber in Ivan Khovansky's mansion
Prince Ivan Khovansky is warned by a servant of Golitsin that he is in danger, but he ignores the warning and watches his servant girls dance. Shaklovity enters and kills him, scornfully imitating the servants' song.
Scene 2: Moscow. The square before the Cathedral of Vasiliy the Blessed
Golitsyn is led into exile. Dosifey mourns the conspirators' downfall and the success of Tsar Peter. Marfa offers sanctuary to Andrey with the Old Believers. The Streltsy are led to their execution. Peter, through an agent, intervenes to pardon them (which is not in agreement with historical fact).

Act 5
A pine forest, a secluded monastery, a moonlit night
Dosifey and his followers have taken refuge in a hermitage in the forest. Although he is weighed down by the sorrows and sufferings of the brethren, he remains defiant and determined to win a "crown of glory" in fire and flame ("Here, in this holy place"). He exhorts the brethren to don white clothing and light candles, preparing for immolation. They enter the hermitage. [Andrey enters, singing of his lost love, still seeking Emma. Marfa sings to Andrey, reminding him of their love, and assuring him that she will not leave him, but will burn with him. Dosifey and the brethren return, dressed in white and carrying candles. They build a funeral pyre. Offstage trumpet calls herald the approach of Tsar Peter's soldiers. Marfa sings to Andrey of the hopelessness of their situation. The trumpet calls sound again. Dosifey exhorts the brethren to remain strong one last time. Marfa lights the pyre. The schismatics sing a final hymn ("God will save me"). As Dosifey, Marfa, Andrey, and the Old Believers perish in the flames, Peter's soldiers arrive in a vain attempt to capture them.]

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Schedule for Modest Mussorgsky "Khovanshchina" (opera in five acts) 2022

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