September 16, 2016 7:30pm
NEC’s Jordan Hall
By Antonín Dvořák
Libretto by Marie Červinková-Riegrová
Sung in Czech with projected English titles
Dvořák’s only grand opera picks up where Mussorgsky left off. After the death of Tsar Boris Godunov, Russia is gripped by uncertainty – who will assume the throne? Boris’s children Fyodor and Xenie, or the one who proclaims himself as Dimitrij, the son of Boris’s predecessor, Ivan the Terrible?
Dimitrij is Dvořák’s most solemn work of the Meyerbeer-esque type of grand opera. The composer conceived his opera as an epic historical tableau unfolding in a spirit of solemn pathos and monumentality. The work was therefore not compatible with the requirement for a “simple, national style”, nor was it sufficiently modern in a Wagnerian sense. Today we regard Dimitrij in all its versions as an important example of Dvořák’s mature compositional mastery and it is also unquestionably one of the most significant works produced for the Czech operatic stage of the post-Smetana era. It boasts a wealth of melodic ideas, a wonderful evocation of local and period atmosphere in the extensive choral scenes, and remarkable instrumentation.