KHOVANSHINA. National music drama in five acts

Composer: Mussorgsky, Modest
Arranger: Shostakovich, Dmitri
Lyricists: Mussorgski, Modest (russ.)
Playing time: 160:00
Genre: Opera
Instrumentation: 3,3,3,3 - 4,3,3,1 - Pk, Schl (Trgl, Bk, Tamb, kl.Tr, gr.Tr, Tam-t, Glsp, Xyl), 2-4 Harfen, Cel, Klav, Streicher
Premiere performance: 25.11.1960 / Leningrad / RUS / Kirow-Theater / Sergei Jeltsin (Leitung) / Leonid Baratow (Regie)


During the confusion regarding succession to the throne preceding the reign of Peter I, the Streltsis – a sort of group of bodyguards of the Czar – try to seize power for themselves. They boast of their horrible deeds at the Red Square in Moscow. The Boyar Shaklovity dictates a proclamation to a scribe directed to the court in which he accuses the leader of the Streltsis, Prince Ivan Khovanski and his son Andrei, of conspiracy against the Regent Sofia and her rival, the still underage heir to the throne, Peter.
Andrei Khovanski is more concerned at this time with amorous adventures than with politics. He pursues and pesters Emma, a young German woman whose father he has killed. Marfa, Andrei’s former lover, comes to help Emma. Taken under Marfa’ s wing, the girl ends up in the circle of the Old Believers, who are also against the Streltsis under the leadership of the old Dossifei.
Prince Golizyn, formerly the lover and partisan of the Regent Sofia, now wants to shift his alliance to her half-brother Peter, who has seized the Czar’s crown for himself. The superstitious man has a prediction told to him by the clever Marfa, known as a sorceress. She predicts betrayal and banishment to him. Enraged, Golizyn wants to have her killed, which can just be prevented by the Czar’s horsemen. Meanwhile, Peter’s troops have invaded and captured a part of the city of the Streltsis. Ivan Khovanski has no idea what to do, but instead looks for distraction at a feast. Despite Golizyn’s warning, he complies with the request brought from Shaklovity for a meeting with the new Czar. Bejewelled and cleaned up, he falls into the trap and is killed without a trial. Golizyn is banished. Czar Peter has all the Streltsis sentenced to death but pardons them at the last minute, thus underlining his godlike power. The Old Believers move into the forest, committing mass suicide in order to escape persecution by the Czar. Czar Peter’s pardon of the Old Believers comes too late.

In printed editions:

Mussorgski, Modest
  • Khovanshchina
    Musical folk drama in 5 acts
    Instrumentation/voices: Orch
    Edition no.: SIK2130
    Edition: Piano Score or Piano Reduction including solo part
    Price: € 89,00 incl. VAT plus delivery
  • Khovanshchina
    Musical folk drama in 5 acts. Libretto
    Edition no.: SIK4/5603
    Edition: Libretto
    Price: € 3,50 incl. VAT plus delivery