Khovanshchina review – Russia’s tragedy becomes the world’s in compelling revival

By Rian Evans for The Guardian (UK)

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Welsh National Opera’s Khovanshchina by Mussorgsky. Photo: Clive Barda/ArenaPAL

Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Welsh National Opera mark the centenary of the 1917 revolutions in this chilling, brilliantly designed production of Mussorgsky’s complex opera

Welsh National Opera’s new season forms part of Russia 17, Wales’s arts-wide commemoration of the centenary of the Russian Revolution and, hot on the heels of Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina at the Proms a few weeks ago, comes this revival of WNO’s 2007 production. It’s a starkly compelling reflection both on the anniversary itself and on the bloody nature of change throughout history: for what emerges is not simply a drama about Mother Russia but the tragedy that unfolds when rival factions within any nation set about each other in a way that spells fragmentation and self-destruction.

The bicentenary of the accession of Peter the Great as Tsar in 1682 was the impulse for Mussorgsky in composing the opera to his own sprawling libretto. Director David Pountney’s staging is set just after the revolution, with the strong, constructivist lines of the late Johan Engels’ design brilliantly channelling El Lissitzky and Kasimir Malevich, but the contemporary resonances are even more chilling today than a decade ago.

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Source: Opera News from the UK Guardian

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