Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov

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A first release on CD of Mussorgsky's epic tragedy recorded by the Belgrade National Opera.

With this and six companion issues, Eloquence makes available for the first time on CD the seven complete Russian operas recorded in 1955 by Decca with the company of the Belgrade Opera.

Fresh from a successful tour of 'Boris Godunov' in Switzerland the previous year, the Belgrade Opera, in 1955, was keen to make an impression on an international public. At the same time, the Decca company perceived a cost-effective but artistically assured opportunity to expand both its small but rapidly growing stereo catalogue (launched the previous year with Ansermet and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande) and its opera discography with classics of the Russian opera repertoire which it had previously not been possible to record in the original language.

In the event, the stereo versions were held back for the US market and only released in Europe in the 1960s, by which time the Belgrade Opera had acquired an international reputation for excellence thanks both to the mono issues and to its extensive touring schedule which took in all the major European operatic centres. The Boris on their recording was Miroslav Cangalovic who became known as a latterday Chaliapin in the part, among the most renowned exponents of his generation. In a “house” version of the opera, incorporating portions of the “Polish” third act in Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestration, Cangalovic was joined by other stalwarts of the company such as Melanija Bugarinova who also won acclaim as Erda at Bayreuth around this time and Zarko Cvejic as a magnificently sonorous and sinister Varlaam.

The booklet for this newly remastered release prints both a synopsis and an essay giving full historical context to the Belgrade opera recordings.