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Caryl Emerson (a literary specialist) and Robert William Oldani (a music historian) take a comprehensive look at the most famous Russian opera, Modest Musorgsky's Boris Godunov. The result is both a historical study of a famous work and an interpretative piece of scholarship. The topics discussed include: the 'Boris Tale' in history; Karamzin's history and Pushkin's drama as literary sources; Musorgsky's innovations as a librettist and as a theorist of the sung Russian word; the strange story of the opera's composition and revision; its first productions at home and abroad; and an in-depth musical analysis. In the process, several often-met errors in Musorgsky scholarship are clarified and corrected. A final chapter speculates on the opera's themes of political murder, guilt and legitimacy - so important to Russian literary and national identity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - and the new role the 'Boris plot' and its composer might come to play in more recent phases of Russian cultural life.
Cambridge University Press
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