Boris Godunov is the only finished opera by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky and is considered by most to be his magnum opus. The opera is based on the life and times of the de facto ruler of Russia (and the first to not belong to the centuries-old Rurikid Dynasty), Boris Godunov, who reigned over Russia at the close of the 16th Century. Due to the work's startling originality and historical significance, Boris Godunov represented a point in history where Russian music, particularly opera, could be taken just as seriously as its musical counterparts in Europe, and the drive to contribute to its perfection was on the minds of many Russian composers of the era. Several versions of the opera exist: two made by the composer, and several made by other composers such as Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Dmitri Shostakovich in an effort to "correct" what many composers and critics felt to be Mussorgsky's "lack of polish" compositionally. Despite Mussorgsky's weaknesses as a composer, many revisions by other composers have fallen out of fashion in favor of the composers own 1872 revision of the work--becoming the most performed Russian opera in the standard operatic repertoire.
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