The Musorgsky Reader: A Life of Modeste Petrovich Musorgsky in Letters and Documents

By Jay Leyda; Sergei Bertensson et al. | Go to book overview
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First-Night Audience

The opera Boris Godunov made a strong impression on the audience, and aroused talk, although opinions were varied. The majority agreed on one thing, that there was in the new opera very little music in the usual sense, and any success was due to the artists: their splendid acting, it was said, had rescued the composer. I recall that [at the première], after the scene of the inn, I stopped in at the loge of some friends whom I had interested in the new opera. The atmosphere in the loge was full of excitement: buzzing, laughter, analysis of the tramps' characters, enthusiasm for the acting of Petrov, Kommissarzhevsky, Leonova [Abarinova], and even of Dyuzhikov, a quite poor artist (who played Misail). After Scene 1 of Act IV (the Granovitaya Palata) I stopped in at another loge: there an elderly lady still held a handkerchief to her eyes. "I am very glad," I said, "that the opera has made such a strong impression on you."--"What sort of opera is this," objected the lady, "there's no music in it; but I must confess that I never took my eyes from the stage. How splendidly Melnikov acts, every word of his still rings in my ears! That's a genius, no actor!"--NIKOLAI KOMPANEISKY


123. To YULIA MAKHINA16 (An Inscription on a Photograph)

[ January 27-28, 1874]

On my return from the première of the opera Boris Godunov, I found your elegant gift. I accept it with an open heart, delighted by the sincere impulse of your pure and artistic soul.

MUSORGSKY


124. To VLADIMIR STASOV

My dear généralissime, I implore you: don't give any publicity in the press to the story of the wreath. Something might happen which you least of all would desire. Boris might not be kept on the stage. I implore you with all the strength of your love for me.

MUSORYANIN

28 January '74.

____________________
16
Yulia Nikolayevna Makhina, a graduate of the Conservatory, had recently made her first public appearance at a Pomazansky concert in which she made a success with Musorgsky song, "The Little Orphan Girl."

-262-

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