Overall, this is the best Khovanschina I've seen, unfortunately it is not easy to find
I have been enjoying this film from 1959 on an old VHS for some time now, but the quality of the video is very quickly fading due to so much watching. Sadly, this Khovanshchina is very difficult to find, and if there is a performance of the opera that does deserve to be on DVD, it's this one. As much as I did love the Vienna and Bolshoi productions, I don't put them in the same league as this one. I do agree that giving Shaklovity's aria to somebody else undermines Shaklovity's character to just a schemer when he is more than that. Other than that, the film is great. It is handsomely mounted, some of the settings are really stunning, and the staging is compelling and moving, despite half of it being cut Dosifei's Act 5 aria really resonated with me here. Stroyeva's direction is superb, making the most of the splendid locations and the direction of the actors. Musically, it is impeccable, the many hauntingly sombre parts of Khovanshchina are played with authority and pathos. The actors do much to make their roles interesting, that of Shaklovity still gives menace. The singing is sonorous, commanding and often very beautiful. Of the overall performances, the standout is Mark Reizen as Dosifei, his singing and acting are both noble and incredibly affecting especially in Act 5. All in all, this Khovanshchina is really wonderful, but it is deserving of a DVD. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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