The Royal Opera presents Musorgsky’s magnificent opera Boris Godunov with Bryn Terfel as the tormented Tsar

© ROH 2016/AKA

© ROH 2016/AKA


Musorgsky’s only completed opera is based on Alexander Pushkin’s tense historical drama, which explores the perils of power. The Royal Opera presents the first revival of Richard Jones’s compelling production of the original 1869 version, with Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel singing the role of Boris.

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. 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. 

Richard Jones’s creative team for this production are set designer Miriam Buether, costume designer Nicky Gillibrand, lighting designer Mimi Jordan Sherin and movement director Ben Wright.

German conductor Marc Albrecht, a winner at the 2019 International Opera Awards, conducts Boris Godunov for the first time at Covent Garden. He made his Royal Opera debut in the 2008/9 Season conducting Der fliegende Holländer. He is the Chief Conductor of Dutch National Opera. 

Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel returns to the title role of Boris Godunov, which he first sang in this production in 2016. Boris is one of two roles he sings with The Royal Opera in the 2018–19 Season, alongside Scarpia (Tosca). Terfel made his Royal Opera debut in 1992 and his numerous roles for The Royal Opera have included Jokanaan (Salome), Sir John Falstaff, Don Giovanni, Méphistophélès (Faust), Wotan (Der Ring des Nibelungen), Scarpia (Tosca), Gianni Schicchi, the Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer) and Dulcamara (L’elisir d’amore). 

New to the role of monk Pimen is British bass and former Young Artist Matthew Rose, whose recent roles for The Royal Opera have included Raimondo (Lucia di Lammermoor) and Baron Ochs (Der Rosenkavalier). Making their Royal Opera debuts in this production are Canadian tenor Roger Honeywell as Prince Shuisky, and Russian baritone Boris Pinkhasovich as Shchelkalov. 

Returning to the roles they created in 2016 are English tenor and former Jette Parker Young Artist David Butt Philip as Grigory (the Pretender), British bass John Tomlinsonas the renegade monk Varlaam and Scottish tenor Harry Nicoll as Missail, with English baritone Adrian Clarke and English bass Jeremy White also returning to the roles of Mityukha and Nikitich respectively.

South Korean soprano and Jette Parker Young Artist Haegee Lee sings the role of Xenia; this Season she has also sung Sandman (Hansel and Gretel) and Frasquita (Carmen) for the Company. Welsh tenor Sam Furness sings Holy Fool, having made his Royal Opera debut this Season as Novice in Billy Budd. Completing the cast are Irish mezzo-soprano Anne Marie Gibbons (Hostess of the Inn), British mezzo-soprano Fiona Kimm (Xenia’s Nurse) English tenor Christopher Lemmings (Boyar), and Irish bass Alan Ewing (Frontier Guard) 

Boris Godunov opens at the Royal Opera House on Wednesday 19 June 2019 at 8pm with subsequent performances on 2225, 27 June at 8pm, 29 June at 12 noonand 3 July 2019 at 8pm


Tickets available from the Royal Opera House website and Box Office
(+44 (0)20 7304 4000)

David Taylor