Wednesday, April 11, 2007

On Trying To Find Time To Think About Prokofiev, Mussorgsky, Wagner, Janacek, Coriolanus, And Meyerhold

"In 1936, two of the Soviet Union’s greatest artists decided to work on a new theatrical production of Pushkin’s “Boris Godunov” for its author’s coming jubilee. Sergei Prokofiev wrote 24 musical pieces while the visionary stage director Vsevolod Meyerhold mapped out scenes and started rehearsals. The following year, Stalin’s terror fixed its gaze on Meyerhold and he abandoned the project. Three years later, he was dead, shot by a firing squad.

Now, thanks to the recent discovery of Meyerhold’s original notes and Prokofiev’s handwritten score and comments, their collaboration is finally having its world premiere on Thursday night at the Berlind Theater at Princeton University, 70 years after its planned opening.

This mammoth undertaking by Princeton, in conjunction with the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in Moscow, rescues a production that artists and scholars thought was lost forever. The four sold-out performances will also introduce Meyerhold, a seminal theatrical thinker, to an audience largely ignorant of his work.

“I was fairly stunned and I continue to be stunned,” said Simon Morrison, an associate professor of music at Princeton, who excavated Meyerhold’s notes in 2005 from a sealed section of the Russian archive, to which he managed to gain access. Mr. Morrison, who is writing a book about Prokofiev, said: “This is one of the scores that he composed in the ’30s when he was at the top of his game, and it went to waste. He never heard it in his lifetime.”" ...

Patricia Cohen "A Lost ‘Boris Godunov’ Is Found and Staged" New York Times April 11, 2007 [with April 8, 2007 dateline]


Prokofiev's "Semyon Kotko (Семён Котко)"

Prokofiev's recently discovered handwritten score for Boris Godunov.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: (c) Russian State Archive of Literature and Art via New York Times. With thanks.


Program to the FREE performance last Sunday evening at the National Gallery of Art of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, from 1936.


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