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Best opera ever? Anne Manson chooses Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov

Editorial Staff

Best Operas Ever is a new podcast from Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on CBC Radio 2. In each instalment, host Ben Heppner talks to one of the major opera figures of our time about a particular opera recording that they especially love. You'll find each episode here on, and you can tune in to CBC Radio 2 at 1 p.m. any Saturday from now until the end of November to hear these classic recordings in their entirety — along with extended conversations with our esteemed guests.

Best Operas Ever No. 11 - Anne Manson

Anne Manson worked closely with the late, great maestro Claudio Abbado when he made his acclaimed recording of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. She talked to Ben about what the sessions were like. 


Anne Manson was a student when she first met the great conductor Claudio Abbado. She had travelled to Vienna to observe some of Abbado’s rehearsals, when he happened to take ill. His usual assistant conductor who would normally fill in for him was busy that night, so Anne found herself stepping in for Abbado in a production of Don Giovanni. One thing led to another, and she soon found herself as Abbado’s official assistant conductor. The first opera that they worked on together was Mussorgsky's monumental Russian history, Boris Godunov. And when Abaddo recorded that work for Sony Classical, with the Berlin Philharmonic and a cast of luminaries, Manson was right there at the sessions. 

Manson has been enamoured with Mussorgsky's masterpiece ever since. "It's an all-encompassing work," she told Ben Heppner. "It's about one particular czar, Boris Godunov, but it's also about Russia itself as a country. It's about power, the people and the church. I think it's an incredibly complex and subtle piece."

Hit the play button above to hear Heppner's full conversation with Manson about Abaddo's recording of Boris Godunov, and the sessions that produced it. You can tune in to Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on Nov. 19 to hear this recording in its entirety, plus more from this conversation.

Subscribe to Best Operas Ever on iTunes!

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