Boris Godunov, among major operas, shares with Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlos the distinction of having the most complex creative history and the greatest wealth of alternative material. The composer created two versions—the Original Version of 1869, which was rejected for production by the Imperial Theatres, and the Revised Version of 1872, which received its first performance in 1874 in Saint Petersburg. These versions constitute two distinct ideological conceptions, not two variations of a single plan.
Boris Godunov has seldom been performed in either of the two forms left by the composer, frequently being subjected to cuts, recomposition, re-orchestration, transposition of scenes, or conflation of the original and revised versions.
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