Music: Basso's Problem

For most of the world's bassos, Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov is operatic boodle, and they will go to considerable lengths to sing it in public. Its protagonist not only gets to wear some of opera's most magnificent costumes, but he has two long and meaty scenes in which to show off the full richness of his voice, rave through a couple of bloody hallucinations, and finally fall dead down a flight of stairs. Last week, at the Metropolitan Opera House, the part was taken by Jerome Hines, 32, the first U.S.-born basso to try it there, and the season's fourth basso (after...

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