Lyric’s Boris Godunov: by the numbers
Three bass roles = 72 fake beards, 24 singing children and 70 pairs of knee-pads.
8 Times that Ferruccio Furlanetto has sung the title role
The formidable bass has already conquered Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Vienna, San Diego and St. Petersburg, where he became the first Italian to sing the role at the revered Russian locale.
3 Lead bass roles
Of course, there’s bad boy Boris. But this opera is a rarity with two other bass roles: Raymond Aceto shows how low he can go as vagrant monk Varlaam, and Andrea Silvestrelli plays the Kremlin’s pious scribe, Pimen. Tenors shine, too. Stefan Margita stirs up trouble as the czar’s sidekick Shuisky. “Shuisky is just such a horrible person, so sleazy,” Margita tells us, minutes before stage rehearsals begin. “I learned a lot from watching Philip Langridge, he was the coldest and most corrupt Shuisky.”
10 Weeks of Russian diction lessons for the cast
“Mussorgsky’s idea was to get as close to the real intonation as possible,” language coach Irina Feoktistova says. The trickiest tongue twisters for non-native speakers? “In Russian we have soft and hard consonants which go in pairs,” explains Feoktistova. “To make the distinct difference between hard and soft L has been the most challenging.”
12 Workers on the wig staff
Somebody’s got to keep the czar’s coif in check.
72 Fake beards
274 Total costumes for a cast of 163
Between the principals, chorus, supernumeraries and four costume changes for Boris, the wardrobe department hustles.
40 Pounds. The weight of the robe and train Furlanetto hauls around in the coronation scene
The boyars have it bad, too, with each of their red coats weighing in at more than 15 pounds. We wouldn’t want to get that laundry bill.
90 Adult chorus members
Russian mezzo-soprano Marianna Kulikova, a private vocal teacher in Evanston, also has a small role as the hostess of the inn. “Boris is very relevant to modern times,” she notes. “There are a few privileged, aristocratic people who are very well off, while the masses are starving.”
24 Child chorus members
A choice bunch of kids from the Chicago Children’s Choir unleashes its lung power. “My favorite part is the acting,” says chipper nine-year-old Miles Richey. “We get to be really naughty.” Sebastian Beaghen, 14, an eloquent middle schooler at Gwendolyn Brooks in Oak Park, was in Lyric’s production of Carmen last year. “We sing in so many languages in our neighborhood choirs that in the end it just becomes a habit,” he says matter-of-factly. “I break words down phonetically and memorize the Russian just as I would do with a new word in English.”
70 Pairs of kneepads
For the chorus members, who spend a lot of time on the ground.
The Lyric’s Boris Godunov runs Thursday 17, Sunday 20, Wednesday 23 and November 26 and 29 at Civic Opera House.