Khovanskygate: A National Enquiry
A New English Version of Musorgsky's Opera
Written by Max Hoehn | Directed by Graham Vick
Birmingham Opera Company | 2014
Winner of Best New Production at the International Opera Awards 2015
Cast: Eric Greene, Claudia Huckle, Keel Watson, Paul Nilon, Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts et al.
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stuart Stratford
"The past in the present - that is my task."
This great, sprawling opera is about a country facing an existential crisis. At its heart is the power struggle between the forces of modern European values and the religious far-right. Graham Vick's production required a new English translation that communicated these conflicting ideologies clearly to an audience with no prior knowledge of the piece's historical context. The language drew heavily on contemporary electoral politics while also preserving the more poetic Russian used by the disturbed Old Believer, Marfa. Given what's happened to British and American democracy since the 2014 premiere of this production, the piece feels more resonant than ever.
'In the pay of politicians
Gossip helped to fill the prisons
Built a network of informers
Gossip soon increased the tortures.
Leaking lies to all the papers
Wrecking public reputations!'
GRANNY GOSSIP CHORUS, Act 3
Like two candles burning bright
We shall glow with a holy light.
Bathing in the flames of God
We shall free our souls from the chains of life.
MARFA, Act 3