Boris Godunov: Synopsis, Character Map


Boris Godunov: Summary

Boris Godunov was a close subordinate of Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible). Ivan the Terrible had two sons, Fyodor and Dmitry. Fyodor married Boris’s sister. After Ivan the Terrible’s death, Boris came to power as Fyodor’s regent. Dmitry dies a suspicious death. Fyodor died.

Boris Godunov

The position of Czar of Russia becomes vacant. Boris is temporarily retired, but a group of noblemen elects Boris as Tsar of Russia. There is a famine in Russia, and the people are dissatisfied.

The monk Grigory learns from the old monk Pimen that Boris assassinated Dmitry. Grigory’s ambition is to impersonate the dead Dmitry and take over the throne of Russia.

Boris begins to see the ghost of Dmitry and dies suddenly. The impostor Dmitry (Grigory), with the Polish nobility and the Jesuits behind him, creates a dissident faction and seeks the throne of the Russian emperor.

Scenes alternate between Boris and Grigory. Boris and Grigory never meet.

Boris Godunov

Boris Godunov: Character Map

Boris Godunov: Character Map
Boris Godunov: Character Map

Boris Godunov: Roles

Boris GodunovCzar of Russiabass-baritone
The PretenderGrigoriytenor
Prince Vasiliy Ivanovich Shuyskytenor
Marina Mniszechthe daughter of the Sandomierz Voyevodasoprano
Rangonia covert Jesuitbass
Varlaama vagabondbass
Misaila vagabondtenor
Andrey ShchelkalovClerk of the Dumabass-baritone
The yuródivïytenor
FyodorBoris’s sonmezzo-soprano
KseniyaBoris’s daughtersoprano
Kseniya’s nursecontralto
The Innkeepermezzo-soprano
  • Native title: Борис Годунов
  • Composers: Modest Mussorgsky
  • Librettist: Modest Mussorgsky
  • Based on: Boris Godunov by Alexander Pushkin and History of the Russian State by Nikolay Karamzin
  • Language: Russian
  • Premiere: January 27, 1874, Mariinsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg
  • Running time: 3 hours 10 minutes (Prologue: 20 minutes, Act 1: 40 minutes, Act 2: 30 minutes, Act 3: 40 minutes, Act 4: 60 minutes)