Alexander Kipnis as Boris Godunov, 1936.
Boris Godunov after Mussorgsky’s Death
The first major revival of the opera was given at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre in 1888, but compared to some other operatic masterpieces, Boris Godunov was relatively slow to enter the standard performing repertoire. The early twentieth century saw many hybrid performances of the opera, employing elements of both the original and revised versions. Both Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908) and Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) created re-orchestrations intended to correct perceived weaknesses in Mussorgsky’s original work. Today Boris Godunov has become the most-often performed and recorded Russian opera. Among the greatest interpreters of the title role was the Russian bass Alexander Kipnis (1891–1978).