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
[ 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.
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.
28 January '74.____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The Musorgsky Reader:A Life of Modeste Petrovich Musorgsky in Letters and Documents. Contributors: Jay Leyda - Translator, Sergei Bertensson - Translator, Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky - Author. Publisher: W.W. Norton. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1947. Page number: 262.
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