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Boris Godunov, Mussorgsky
D: Richard Jones
C: Antonio Pappano
Opera review: Boris Godunov at the Royal Opera House

It tells the tale of the 16th century Russian tsar Boris Godunov who seized power after the death of Ivan the Terrible, allegedly after supervising the murder of Ivan's son, and went on to be almost as terrible as his predecessor. In the opera, he is plagued with guilt and ends up going mad, so the whole thing becomes a case history of increasing derangement. Most unusually, there is no major role for a woman singer, so there are no great soprano arias to liughten the musical mood, and it is Boris who dies at the end after the plot has meandered through the darker realms of insanity. The credit for the power of this scene goes equally to Terfel and the director, Richard Jones, and his team, whose striking design and costumes provide a visual treat matching the power of the music. Jones does, however, rather overdo a repeated vision tormenting Boris of the murder of Ivan's son which brought Boris to power.With Bryn Terfel as Boris dominating the show, all other roles are reduced to bit parts, but it is worth mentioning John Tomlinson as a drunken monk, who provided a much needed comic interlude to interrupt the sombre tale. As always, however, Bryn Terfel is well worth seeing and the intensity drawn from the orchestra by Antonio Pappano is magnificent.

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29 March 2016www.express.co.ukWILLIAM HARTSTON

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