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Russian Opera Features Soviet In U.S. Debut

March 17, 1987

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Soviet bass Paata Burchuladze will make his U.S. opera debut March 30 at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music in the original 1869 version of Modest Mussorgsky’s ″Boris Gudunov.″

The Russian composer based his opera, considered his finest work, on the play by Alexander Pushkin. The story focuses on the tempestuous reign of the legendary Russian czar.

″This version deals more succinctly with the personal tragedy of Boris than later versions, which elaborate on the extraneous elements of his life,″ said Margaret Anne Everitt, general director of the Opera Company of Philadelphia. ″This score reveals the agony of the guilt Boris suffered over the murder of a child to attain his throne, which eventually drives him mad.″

The opera was rejected when the composer submitted it to the Imperial Theater of St. Petersburg and it was never performed in his lifetime. After Mussorgsky’s death in 1881, his good friend, Nicholas Rimsky-Korsakov, revised the manuscript into the version most often done today, including reworking Mussorgsky’s daring harmonies.

Burchuladze appeared in Philadelphia last year after he won the Opera Company of Philadelphia-Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition. The bass made his American concert debut at the Spectrum sports arena in a performance of the Verdi Requiem featuring Pavarotti. The performance was taped for a Public Broadcasting Servive telecast last June and will be rebroadcast on April 15.

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