(16 mei 1907) My first concert ended with an appalling scandal. [The Prince Galitzky scene] was so extra-ordinary successful that the applause went on and on and there seemed no limit to the number of times the excited public would recall Chaliapine. Nikisch got ready to begin conducting 'Kamarinskaya' which was to conclude the program. Several times he raised his arms, ready to start, but the public, by now quite out of hand, refused to be silenced. Then, mortally offended, he threw down his baton and walked out of the orchestra pit. The audience was taken by surprise. Several people began to make their way out. Upstairs in the gallery the din continued, then, in a sudden hush, we heard a deep bass voice thundering out from the remotest heights of the house, in Russian, the words 'Ka-ma-rinska-ya! I screwed your mother'. Grand Duke Vladimir, who was sitting beside me in the box, got up and said to the Grand Duchess, "Well, I think it's time we went home."
Certain incidents attendant on the first staging of 'Boris' in 1874 are well known; such as that the scenes in Pimen's cell and the revolutionary scene with the Innocent were banned, and that the direction of the Imperial Theatres insisted on Mussorgsky's adding the Polish scenes to the Opera. In the autograph score of Mussorgsky, which has never been recopied and ofcourse never published - the score used in the earliest productions of the Opera, before the editing of Rimsky-Korsakov - the scenes in Pimen's cell is not included: but I found it among Rimsky-Korsakov's papers. Much has been said about Mussorgsky's inspired idea of ending the opera not with the death of Boris, but with the scene of revolution and the Innocent's song, as was published in the first edition of Rimsky's version. But in Mussorgsky's manuscript the opera ends with the death of Boris, and on the last page the composer wrote "End of the opera".
When I came to put on 'Boris' in Paris Rimsky-Korsakov restored certain numbers which had been suppressed from the start, including the famous peal of bells, which was to cause a sensation in Paris. I was terrified at the opera's length and worried about the running order. My friends and I had endless discussions with Rimsky-Korsakov about transposing certain scenes. Among other questions we considered whether we could place the coronation after Pimen's cell, so as to separate the two crowd scenes and end the first act with the Coronation Scene - which was chronologically possible (I asked the advice of the historian N.P.Kondakov about this) and theatrically a great improvement. This first year in Paris I gave neither the Inn-scene nor the scene in
Marina's bedroom, so afraid was I of dragging out the opera, which anyway most people said the French would never understand!
I persuaded Rimsky-Korsakov of top of his other alterations to revise the coronation scene, which struck me as too short, and to complete and elaborate some of the carillons. He threw himself excitedly into this work; and the last word I had from him just before his death was a telegram to Paris from Russia asking me "How do my new bits sound?"
I had been hearing 'Boris' for nearly twenty years at the Mariinksy, but it was given as seldom as possible, not even every year, and it was the least popular opera in the repertory.
Latterly, since Chaliapine had begun to sing it, his scenes were the only ones ever greeted by applause.
Tchaikovsky's 'Eugene Onegin' had always been the most popular opera in Russia, and when I was organizing my Paris season the Court urged me to present it before any other. When the Empress heard that I was putting on 'Boris', she asked me "Couldn't you find anything more boring to give them?"
Sergej Pavlovitsj Diaghilev (1872–1929) was een Russische impresario. Op deze website zijn een aantal dagboekfragmenten van hem te vinden.