Live Cinema Season

Boris Godunov (2016)

Recorded | Opera


Boris Godunov (2016)

Richard Jones directs a new production of Musorgsky’s magnificent opera on the perils of power.

The story

After the deaths of Ivan the Terrible and his son Fyodor, Boris Godunov becomes Regent, as Ivan's surviving son Dmitry, the Tsarevitch, is still a child. When Dmitry dies in mysterious circumstances, politicians urge Boris to become Tsar. Boris reluctantly agrees, hoping that no one will discover the secret that troubles him. During the years that follow, Boris proves himself a good ruler.

However, a serious famine provokes Boris's enemies, led by Prince Shuisky, to attempt to undermine his authority. Meanwhile the young monk Grigory, who bears a remarkable resemblance to the deceased Tsarevitch, decides to impersonate Dmitry and seize the throne. With pressure mounting on him from all sides, Boris begins to lose his sanity.


Boris Godunov is one of the most dramatically rewarding bass-baritone roles: a noble ruler who loves his children and his people, but whose thirst for power has led him to commit a terrible crime. Musorgsky traces the Tsar's downfall with psychological acuity, from the nobility of his Coronation to his tragic end in one of opera's most affecting death scenes. Other highlights include the stirring chorus that opens and closes the Coronation Scene (based on a Russian folksong), Pimen's austere monologue in Scene 7 and the comic interlude with the monks Varlaam and Missail in Scene 4. Richard Jones's insightful production reflects the conflict between Boris's public persona and his private guilt through a set in which the murder of the Tsarevitch Dmitry is ritually re-enacted in a high vaulted room.

Musorgsky was inspired to compose Boris Godunov after reading Pushkin's Shakespeare-inspired play of the same name. He completed his first version of the opera in 1869, but it was rejected by the Imperial Theatres Directorate due to its lack of lyricism and significant female characters. Musorgsky's revised 1872 version - which contained more formal arias, several additional characters and a new act - received its premiere in 1874 at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. The Royal Opera performs the composer's original version, which has a predominantly naturalistic and declamatory vocal style, and in which the story remains focused on Boris throughout.



Modest Musorgsky


Modest Musorgsky


Richard Jones

Set designer

Miriam Buether

Costume designer

Nicky Gillibrand

Lighting designer

Mimi Jordan Sherin

Movement director

Ben Wright


Antonio Pappano
Boris Godunov
Bryn Terfel
Prince Shuisky
John Graham-Hall
Andrey Shchelkalov
Kostas Smoriginas
Grigory Otrepiev
David Butt Philip
Ain Anger
John Tomlinson
Harry Nicoll
Vlada Borovko
Yurodivy (Holy Fool)
Andrew Tortise
Xenia's Nurse
Sarah Pring
Hostess of the inn
Rebecca de Pont Davies
Adrian Clarke
Frontier Guard
James Platt
Jeremy White
Ben Knight
Nicholas Sales
Royal Opera Chorus
Concert master
Peter Manning
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Boris Godunov Digital Programme

Boris Godunov Digital Programme

Digital Programmes bring together a range of specially selected films, audio clips, pictures, articles, features, news and information, as well as exclusives and updates, and highlights from the Royal Opera House website, YouTube, SoundCloud and Flickr pages. Features are added as the performances approach, to enhance your experience of a production.

Cast sheets

Cast sheets are available as PDFs

News and features

To find out more visit the Boris Godunov (2016) production page.