Mussorgsky composed two great Russian epics: Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina. The latter is perhaps less well known, but it is nonetheless a thrilling story of love, religion, and politics set in a time of unrest and turmoil. Mussorsky penned the libretto based on historical sources, but the work remained unfinished and unperformed at the time of his death in 1881. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, a fellow member of the group of Russian composers known as "The Five," completed, revised, and scored Khovanshchina in 1881–1882. Because of his extensive cuts and "recomposition," Dmitri Shostakovich revised the opera in 1959 based on Mussorgsky's vocal score, and it is the Shostakovich version that is usually performed. In 1913, Igor Stravinsky and Maurice Ravel made their own arrangement at Sergei Diaghilev's request. When Feodor Chaliapin refused to sing the part of Dosifei in any other orchestration than Rimsky-Korsakov's, Diaghilev's company employed a mixture of orchestrations which did not prove successful. The Stravinsky-Ravel orchestration was forgotten, except for Stravinsky's finale, which is still used.
Kirill Petrenko conducts an all-Russian and Georgian cast in a performance that will run approximately four hours and twenty-five minutes.