engraving by France Sniadecki, 1606

False Dimitrij 1 portrait. Engraving by France Sniadecki, 1606

Back in the 17th century there were at least three gents claiming to be Dimitrij, son of Ivan the Terrible. False Dimitrij I surfaced around 1600 – that’s our guy. Then there was False Dimitrij II and False Dimitrij III.  I didn’t know about any of them until we programed this amazing opera. Now my sudden and intense interest in these False Dimitrijs is being fueled by all this lurid stuff on the internet. So apologies to any bona fide historians if I get it a little askew in my enthusiasm.

But it’s true, and the real story of False Dmitirij I is at least as dramatic as the romanticized one told in the opera by Dvorak.  A man, who we are pretty sure was actually Grigory Otrepiev, concocted a scheme to take over Russia by impersonating the long dead son of Ivan the Terrible. Now everybody was pretty sure that guy was stabbed when he was only 8 years old, allegedly masterminded by Boris Godunov in order to ensure his own son would ascend to the throne when Ivan died.  Intrigued? Stay tuned…

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