Dutch National Opera presents

Khovanshchina Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)

This show was to been seen in February 2016


Duration 4:10

Breaks 2

By Modest Musorgsky

Language Russian

Surtitles English & Dutch


Modest Moesorgski
Opera in five acts
Libretto by Modest Moesorgski, after an idea by Vladimir Stasov
Word premiere 9 February 1886, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg


New production
Premiere 27 February 2016

Freely translated, Khovanshchina means ‘the Khovansky affair’. This opera tells the story of the revolt of the Streltsy (musketeers) led by Prince Khovansky against Peter the Great. Mussorgsky shows how personal and political ambitions can get intertwined, and how the common folk suffer as a result of the power games of their rulers.

In short

Similar to Mussorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina is based on Russian history and inspired by death, exile, madness and politics. In Christof Loy’s production of Khovanshchina, the story of the rise and fall of a noble Russian family unfolds on stage like a kaleidoscope. In the political and religious conflicts, the director sees a link to the Russian political situation today. Loy: “I’m interested in where we come from and where we are going to”.

For Khovanshchina, director Christof Loy was inspired by Vasily Surikovs painting of the Streltsy's execution.
Our costume department is working on several historical costumes. Take a look behind the scenes.

The story

On the eve of the take-over by Tsar Peter the Great, Moscow is torn between two rival leaders: Prince Golitsin of the Boyars and Ivan Khovansky, who represents the sect of the Old Believers. Khovansky has his own army of the feared ‘Streltsy’. After Peter the Great has taken the city, Prince Golitsin is banished and Ivan Khovansky is murdered. The Old Believers commit mass suicide in order to escape the rule of Peter the Great.

Team, Cast and Chorus

Ingo Metzmacher
Stage Director 
Christof Loy
Set Designer 
Johannes Leiacker
Costume Designer 
Ursula Renzenbrink
Lighting Designer 
Reinhard Traub
Thomas Wilhelm
Katja Hagedorn
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Chorus of the Dutch National Opera
Chorus Master 
Ching-Lien Wu
Children's chorus 
Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderkoor
led by Eline Welle
Prince Ivan Chovanski 
Dmitry Ivashchenko
Prince Andrej Chovanski 
Maxim Aksenov
Prince Vasili Golitsyn 
Kurt Streit
Gábor Bretz
Orlin Anastassov
Anita Rachvelishvili
Olga Savova
Andrei Popov
Svetlana Aksenova
Roger Smeets
Vasily Efimov
Morschi Franz
Streltsy 1 
Vitali Rozynko
Streltsy 2 
Sulkhan Jaiani
Confidant of Golitsyn 
Richard Prada


Although the composer spent the last nine years of his life working on it, he never produced a definitive version of Khovanshchina. After Mussorgsky’s death, various composers worked on completing it. Dutch National Opera has chosen for the Khovanshchina that was finished by Shostakovich. This new production continues Dutch National Opera’s exploration of the Russian repertoire.

Main roles

The part of Khovansky is sung by Dmitry Ivashchenko, a DNO-debut. His opponent Dosifey is sung by Orlin Anastassov, who has sung the role of the pope in Benvenuto Cellini at DNO last season. Anita Rachvelishvili is making her DNO debut in the role of Marfa.

Christof Loy

Christof Loy (Les vêpres siciliennes and Arabella) won the Musikpreis der Stadt Düsseldorf. He has been voted director of the year no fewer than three times by the magazine Opernwelt and he has won a Laurence Olivier Award.

Khovanshchina is part of the programme of the Opera Forward Festival: a new festival that explores the future of opera through innovative new work. Take a look at the complete festival programme on operaforward.nl.


Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra | Netherlands Chamber Orchestra

Dutch National Opera’s regular orchestra partner is regarded internationally as one of the best opera orchestras. The orchestra gives a varied programme of concerts in the Concertgebouw, as well as performing in various Dutch concert halls and at venues and festivals abroad.

    Mon 07 Mar Financial Times over Khovanshchina (2016) *****

    'Gripping and Glorious.' ‘Evenings like this are why we go to the opera.’