Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007 | It’s not every day you see a 57-year-old intentionally hurl himself down steep stairs. But Italian bass and crowd favorite Ferruccio Furlanetto did just that in the title role of “Boris Godunov” and stole the show at the San Diego Opera season’s opening night.
Seen in last season’s San Diego Opera’s production of “The Barber of Seville,” Furlanetto made his American role debut as the tragic Russian Czar.
Originally orchestrated by Modest Mussorgsky, “Boris Godunov” was altered considerably after his death by contemporary Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov who found the piece substandard, dissonant and lacking rhythmic patterns.
Although performed by San Diego Opera twice before, this year’s production of Boris Godunov uses Mussorgsky’s original 1869 orchestration for the first time here in San Diego.
Based on Alexander Pushkin’s drama set in the late 1500s, “Boris Godunov” examines the political intrigue and scandalous struggle for the Russian throne as only a classic opera can do. When Ivan the Terrible’s young son and heir Dmitri is murdered, the eventual fate of the throne is in question. Boris Godunov claims the crown amidst rumors that he himself murdered Dmitri. Godunov tries in vain to win over the people of Russia, but there is famine; peasants are weary and the boyars (wealthy landowners) are suspicious of his attempts at popularity.
When a young monk named Grigori (Jay Hunter Morris) learns that he would be the same age of Dmitri had he lived, he breaks his vows and journeys toward Moscow with a vengeance. As he moves closer to the Czar, rumors of Boris’ involvement in Dmitri’s suspicious murder spread, torturing the guilt-ridden Czar.