My main reason for visiting the production was partially Bryn Terfel as the lead but also the fact that the opera is not a staple in the repertoire around the world. Moreover I also have an affection to Russian composers and Musorgsky is right down that alley.

Antonio Pappano was leading the orchestra during this quite intense piece of music. The opera was performed without an interval and with a running time of over 2 hours it’s not quite a Wagnerian endurance test but challenging enough.

The stage set up (Set Design by Miriam Buether) was very simple, almost too simple. That combined with a quite heavy topic made it a challenging musical evening. Bryn Terfel did a great job in portraying the burdened soul of Godunov. The rest of the cast included Sarah Pring as Xenia’s Nurse, John Graham-Hall and John Tomlinson.

Whilst it was – as to be anticipated – a testing though interesting evening I personally felt a little underwhelmed. For such a grand and impressive opera the Royal Opera House almost seemed to small. Especially the coronation chorus did not quite cause as many goosebumps as it should have. Such a majestic and dramatic piece of music requires a less intimate space to leave people as speechless and in thought as it should.

Maybe the performance at the Proms in Royal Albert Hall will do this opera more justice….


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