The folks at Paris Opera are having a stellar few years. Who failed to get excited when reading a recent New York Times article about their extraordinary ability to attract youthful audiences? The average age of those hanging out in a parterre box is 48, compared with 54 at the Berlin State Opera and 58 at the Met. Musical standards are top-notch, they’re attracting some of the biggest stars that aren’t making the trek to the States anymore (cough, Jonas Kaufmann, cough), and directors are taking risks and mounting productions ambitious in scale and scope. 

Boris Godounov. Photo © courtesy of Palace Opera 

Belgian Ivo Van Hove, whose stunning Kings of War played at this year’s Adelaide Festival, is one of these directors. Known for his highly thoughtful and compelling stagings, he’s had success after success in the theatre and can point to a good track record when it comes tackling opera’s biggest beasts – his recent Salome for Dutch National Opera was a knockout, traces of his trademark coolness mingling with Strauss’ penchant for blood and sex.

Audiences can now catch his production of Mussorgsky’s brilliant Boris Godounov for Paris Opera with commanding bass Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role. He’s supported by a mostly Slavic cast, sure to be idiomatic in what is an opera with big bones. Soprano Ruzan Mantashyan, taking the part of Xenia, is a rising star, while the Paris forces under firebrand Vladimir Jurowski are certain
to be splendid.

The Boris in question is a very rich one indeed. Abdrazakov has been moving into heavier repertoire in recent years, his Philippe for Paris Opera’s Don Carlos last season a particular highlight. Here Abdrazakov, who will be given licence to dig deep into the anguish and madness of Boris, will have the aid of Van Hove in crafting moment by moment an arresting portrait of a man very much at the end of his tether. You’d be mad to miss this one. 


Boris Godounov plays select Palace Cinemas from July 20 – 25. Limelight readers can win 1 of 10 double passes – click here to enter.

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