Mussorgsky "Boris Godunov". Opera in four Acts with a Prologue, in ten scenes. Re-orchestration.
Premiere: November 4, 1959. Leningrad. Kirov State Academic Theatre for Opera and Ballet.
Manuscripts: Hand-written score in the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art (Stack 2048, Inv. 2, Items 36-39) also in the family archive.
First Edition: Score, "Sovietskii kompozitor" Publishers, Moscow, 1963.
"I revere Mussorgsky. I consider him to be the greatest Russian composer. My task was to probe as deeply as I could the original creative idea of this composer of genius, to reveal that idea and convey it to the listener. <...> I aspired to greater symphonic development of the opera, giving the orchestra a role more significant than that of merely accompanying the singers. <...>
It was with deep emotion that I worked on the editing of the opera 'Boris Godunov'.I literally sat over the score for days and nights on end. It was probably one of my most exciting pieces of work in recent years."
(D. Shostakovich. "Score of the Opera", "Izvestia", May 1, 1941)
"So far this can be regarded as a labour in vain, because nobody here has made use of my work. The singers were particularly aggressive about it. They maintain that Mussorgsky is 'impossible to sing' and that Rimsky-Korsakov's version is very good in this respect. I made a very careful study of Mussorgsky's 'Boris' and am convinced that everything in it is singable and that everything ought to sound good. The 'view' of Mussorgsky as unsingable is a consequence of routine and habit. If one takes this view, then Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
(Finale) is totally impossible to perform. <...>
More or less the same is happening now with 'Khovanshchina' that I am currently working one. There have already been signals from Moscow to the effect that performing 'Khovanshchina' in this version is impossible. Singers are probably the same the world over."
(From a letter to G. Kozintsev - July 24, 1958. Repino)