Modeste Mussorgsky drank himself to death in his early 40's, leaving nothing but the vocal score to this magnificent, positively sprawling cornerstone of Russian culture. Aside from one short strophic song in Act 3, Mussorgsky's ideas about the orchestral scoring of Khovanshchina were left to chance. This production presents the version of Mussorgsky's friend and mentor Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: one of the most phenomenal misappropriations of opera history. The two composers could not have been more dissimilar - Rimsky-Korsakov failed utterly and completely to understand Mussorgsky's revolutionary genius, thus confusing the public for Khovanshchina as well, first in Russia, where the Rimsky-Korsakov version was standard for decades, and later in the West. The version is full of musically alien Germanisms and too precious dramatic "moments," woefully lacking in long-range tension and the kind of penetrating psychology that is the essence of Mussorgsky. About this video there is a critical, three-pronged allure. It is the tension between the soaringly FABULOUS vocalism of the soloists, the grandeur of the production (especially the costumes), and the patchy version of the score, probably responsible for the out-dated notion that Khovanshchina is too epic for its own good. (Just listen to Shostakovich's later orchestration - a huge success in comparison.) Yevgeni Nesterenko as Dosifei is a force of nature - simply awe-inspiring. Irina Arkhipova (recently her role in the Soviet government has been revealed - suffice it to say her colleagues should have been terrified of her political influence) sings Marfa with bravura but maintains an unbecoming haughtiness throughout. Truly world-class singing from the other soloists and the chorus reinforces that, for melomanes, Russophiles, and indeed almost all music lovers, this a video not to miss.