-by special guest Ken Furie, a former opera critic for the NY Times
Can you imagine a ruler capable of feeling guilt for his actions?
[7:55] "With my family I hoped to find solace. For my daughter I prepared a splendid wedding feast-- for my tsarevna, my Pure Little Dove. [7:15] Like a storm, death carries off the bridegroom." --Tsar Boris, soliloquizing in the imperial apartments of the Kremlin in Act II of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov
I'm inclined to think of Russian history and politics as more of a "heightened" version of ours rather than a thing apart. Living with Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov over a lifetime, I find myself more and more riveted by this moment in the tsar's Act II reflections when we see that he seems to believe his family's recent catastrophe--the sudden death of his beloved daughter Xenia's fiance--was somehow caused by the heavy burden of his own guilt. Imagine that: a ruler with a working conscience, actually capable of feeling guilt for his actions.
(You'll find more video clips along with lots more blather in "Was Mussorgsky just romancing, suggesting that put-upon Russian peasants expected higher-quality lies (and liars) from their authoritarian rulers?" on Down With Tyranny