Roundtable about Boris Godunov with Ferruccio Furlanetto at Italian Cultural Institute in Chicago.
Boris Godunov, Lyric Opera of Chicago, November, 2011
The premiere of "Boris Godunov" at the Lyric Opera of Chicago became a smashing success. Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title part of haunted Russian czar received highest public and critical acclaim. The Mussorgsky's opera was performed in it's original 1869 version. The cast: Shuisky - Štefan Margita, Pimen - Andrea Silvestrelli, Varlaam - Raymond Aceto, Conductor - Sir Andrew Davis, Director - Julia Pevzner
Photo Dan Rest
In the press:
Lyric Opera's "Boris Godunov" full of outstanding performances
"On Monday, Lyric revived its austerely handsome 1994-95 production of the opera, and at its center is Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto, a stellar artist making a shockingly late Lyric debut. On opening night, Furlanetto's Boris was a riveting combination of commanding authority and heart-wrenching despair.
Furlanetto's Boris was a towering yet all-too-human character. The czar consumed by guilt over the murder that brought him to Russia's throne in 1598 is one of the Italian bass' signature roles. Cutting a handsome figure with his wild mane of graying hair and flowing, fur-rimmed robes, Furlanetto has honed it to a complex psychological profile.
His is not a sepulchral bass, one of those voices whose low register conveys the chill of the grave itself. On Monday we were drawn to Boris by the all-enveloping warmth and flexibility of Furlanetto's singing. Yes, he was a supreme ruler. As he grappled with a scheming courtier (the wonderfully sinister Slovakian tenor Stefan Margita), we didn't doubt that he would happily murder the man in a minute.
But Furlanetto was equally believable in tender scenes with his beloved children. Warmly hugging his teenage daughter, Xenia, smiling at the chatter of his bright young heir, Fyodor, he was a loving papa. And when Boris' diseased mind began to destroy his body, Furlanetto's blend of powerful voice and broken spirit was chilling."
Wynne Delacoma Chicago Sun-Times
Czar power: A riveting Furlanetto leads a superb cast in Lyric's "Boris"
"Furlanetto was providing the most memorable performance of this demanding role that Chicago audiences have ever heard. The Italian bass has clearly honed the role of the conflicted czar to a fine and nuanced dramatic point. From his entrance as a reluctant ascendant to the throne, Furlanetto brought commanding presence and complete authority, vocally and dramatically. ...his voice remains in remarkably strong and flexible estate. In the long narration of Part Two ("I have achieved supreme power") Furlanetto brought great dramatic force and startling intensity to his long soliloquy. So too he charted Boris's mental decline with almost clinical detail. One can go a long time without experiencing the kind of complete vocal acting Furlanetto brought to Boris's death scene - conveying the czar's filial love, guilt, regret, and defiance - in a performance that was beautifully sung, compelling, and heart-breaking," - wrote Lawrence A. Johnson in chicagoclassicalreview.com
Czar turn: Furlanetto's commanding portrayal adds power to Lyric's 'Boris Godunov'
"Furlanetto has made this touchstone bass role his own. The qualities that make him a superb Verdi singer also make him a superb interpreter of the complex and contradictory anti-hero. He was the first Italian to sing the title role in St. Petersburg, Russia, and his portrayal has also graced the theaters of Milan, Venice and Vienna. His formidable voice - full, even, effortlessly powerful, blessed with varied colorations - combined with his skills as a singing actor to convey the czar's torment and downfall with stunning immediacy. The rolling vocal authority he lavished on the czar's "public" scenes was achieved without bluster, just as the domestic scenes between Boris and his two beloved children, Fyodor (Emily Fons) and Xenia (Emily Birsan), were a triumph of finely sculpted legato phrases. Such touches as the half-mad ruler's wrapping himself in a giant map of Russia at the end of the Hallucination Scene were bone-chilling. The final scene, in which the dying czar urged his son (and heir-apparent), to guard Russia's borders, seek justice and preserve the faith, also packed great vocal and dramatic punch. For Furlanetto's magnificent performance alone, this "Boris Godunov" is well worth catching." John von Rhein Chicago Tribune
Glorious Boris at Lyric
"The opera hinges on its title character, embodied and sung majestically by practically-Russian-but-Italian Ferruccio Furlanetto, the first Italian to sing Boris at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. We first see him equivocating as the Duma (parliament) calls for him to become the next Czar. Once he finally accepts, his mind continues to be plagued by some unseen dread. The highlights of the opera are his soliloquies, in which he gives greater and greater hints as to his misery. But he never descends into full-blown madness, maintaining regal dignity until the very end."
Evan Kuchar, Chicago Now
Review: Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Boris Godunov"
"Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto fascinates in a riveting portrayal of the late 16th century czar. With a powerful voice and a majestic frame, Furlanetto towers over everyone around him and delivers on the czar's rise and fall with grand eloquence. His performance is especially chilling in the scene in which the title character descends into madness and wraps himself in a giant map of Russia."
Betty Mohr SouthTown Star
Ferruccio Furlanetto: A Czar For All Ages
"Boris Godunov, the most Russian of operas, returned to the Lyric Opera after an absence of 17 years. Ferruccio Furlanetto, who has conquered Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Vienna, and St. Petersburg in the role, made his long overdue debut. Why he has been so successful is immediately apparent. A large man, with a commanding stage presence, he sings his lyric lines with great beauty and feeling. He moves with the music to help us understand this complex figure in Russian history. ... Furlanetto captures all the complexities of this majestic character. Through tone and dynamics, he deploys a wide range of emotion in a large, rich voice. His tender and wounded side is not recessive as he whispers agony and heart-rending grief and guilt, but rather expresses feelings so unbearable that they must be shushed. A Boris for the ages in the portrayal by Ferruccio Furlanetto, who is heralded even in Russia as a great Czar."
Susan Hall ConcertoNet.com
Ferruccio Furlanetto, the ace of basses, sings role 'dearest to my heart' at Lyric
BY LAURA EMERICK
Hollywood hot shots including Leonardo DiCaprio and director James Cameron have given the catchphrase "I'm the king of the world!" - from the film "Titanic" (1997) - lots of pop-culture currency. But in the realm of fine arts, especially opera, possibly no one owns the phrase more than Italian-born bass Ferruccio Furlanetto. He has given definitive performances of regal roles such as King Philip II in Verdi's "Don Carlo" (in which he received raves last season at the Metropolitan Opera) and Massenet's "Don Quichotte" (which he will reprise next month at the Teatro Real in Madrid). Last week at Lyric Opera of Chicago, he opened triumphantly as the tragic czar in Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov," which many consider the pinnacle of all bass portrayals, and a role he calls "dearest to my heart." In 1999, he did his first "Boris," following in the wake of great basses such as Feodor Chaliapin, Boris Christoff and Nicolai Ghiaurov. "I never finish learning this role," said Furlanetto in an interview backstage at Lyric Opera. "It's wonderful to have this metamorphosis. After 12 years of singing this role, it continues to evolve with me. To put on the robes of Boris, I still find it a joy and a privilege."