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20 Feb 2007


mussorgsky.pngRichard Morrison [Times Online, 20 February 2007]

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

In Russia, history tends to repeat itself as tragedy, then farce — then grand opera. Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina is typical: an epic attempt to dramatise power struggles in late 17th-century Moscow. And cosy they aren’t. By Act V all the jostling factions are murdered, exiled or have set themselves on fire (the opera ends with a macabre mass-immolation), thanks to the machinations of Peter the Great, who never appears — Tsarist convention dictating that you couldn’t portray a Romanov on stage.

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