Dimitrij is an opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 by Antonín Dvořák
Antonín Dvorák
Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

 in 4 acts, set a libretto by Marie Červinková-Riegrová. More specifically, it belongs to the genre of Grand Opera
Grand Opera
Grand opera is a genre of 19th-century opera generally in four or five acts, characterised by large-scale casts and orchestras, and lavish and spectacular design and stage effects, normally with plots based on or around dramatic historic events...

. The work was first performed in Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, at the Nové České Divadlo (New Czech Theatre) on 8 October 1882, after Dvořák began composition during May 1881. The work was first performed in the United States on March 24, 1984 in a concert format presented at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 by conductor Robert Bass
Robert Bass (conductor)
Robert H Bass was an American conductor who notably served as the music director of the Collegiate Chorale in New York City for almost three decades. Bass studied conducting at Mannes College The New School for Music under Richard Westenburg, who was the Collegiate Chorale's director at that time...

 and the Collegiate Chorale
Collegiate Chorale
The Collegiate Chorale is a symphonic choir based in New York City, USA. It was founded in 1941 by Robert Shaw, who was later to found the professional Robert Shaw Chorale. The Collegiate Chorale continues to give several performances annually in Carnegie Hall and other major venues...

 with Martina Arroyo
Martina Arroyo
Martina Arroyo is an operatic soprano of Puerto Rican and African-American descent who had a major international opera career during the 1960s through the 1980s...

 as Marina.

The libretto was originally written for Karl Šebor to set, but he proved highly unwilling to do so, so Červinková-Riegrová offered her work to Dvořák, who proved much more enthusiastic, but requested plenty of modifications to the libretto as it stood, including the introduction of more opportunities for ensembles. The form of the opera was largely in imitation of Eugene Scribe
Eugène Scribe
Augustin Eugène Scribe , was a French dramatist and librettist. He is best known for the perfection of the so-called "well-made play" . This dramatic formula was a mainstay of popular theater for over 100 years.-Biography:...

, and the plot was derived from Ferdinand Mikovec’s Dimitr Ivanovič, itself based upon Schiller's incomplete Demetrius.

With Dimitrij, Dvořák scored a great popular success, though he later persuaded his librettist to rework Act 4, and this revised version was given in 1885. Later still, he heavily reworked the opera along Wagnerian lines, and this radical version was performed during 1892.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, October 8, 1882
(Conductor: - )
Jov, the patriarch of Moscow bass Ferdinand Koubek
Prince Vasilij Šujský
Vasili IV of Russia
Vasili IV of Russia was Tsar of Russia between 1606 and 1610 after the murder of False Dmitriy I. His reign fell during the Time of Troubles....

Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

Josef Lev
Petr Fedorovič Basmanov bass Frantisek Hynek
Xenie Borisovna soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

Irma Reichová
Irma Reichová
Irma Reichová was a Czech operatic soprano who had an active career appearing in European opera houses during the latter half of the nineteenth century. A dramatic soprano, she was admired for both her musical and acting talent...

Dimitrij Ivanovič tenor
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...

Václav Soukup
Marfa Ivanovna contralto
Contralto is the deepest female classical singing voice, with the lowest tessitura, falling between tenor and mezzo-soprano. It typically ranges between the F below middle C to the second G above middle C , although at the extremes some voices can reach the E below middle C or the second B above...

Eleonora Gayerová
Marina Mníškova
Marina Mniszech
Marina Mniszech Marina Mniszech Marina Mniszech (Polish: Maryna Mniszchówna or Maryna Mniszech; Russian: Марина Мнишек (Marina Mnishek); also known as "Marinka the witch" in Russian folklore; c...

, Dmitrij's wife
soprano Marie Zofie Sittová
Něborský baritone J. Christl
Bučinský baritone Mikolas


After the death of Boris, the Russian people are split between the followers of the Godunov family (led by Shuisky) whilst others (led by General Basmanov) support Dmitrij, assumed son of Ivan the Terrible and husband to the Polish Marina of the Sandomir family. If Marfa (widow of Ivan the Terrible) publicly recognises Dimitrij as her son, he will triumph. Despite knowing that this is not the case, she does this to use him as a pawn for her revenge on her old enemies.

In Act 2, Dimitrij is seen breaking up altercations between Poles and Russians and rescuing Xenia, with whom he forms a relationship. He also breaks up a conspiracy led by Shuisky, who is to be executed.

In Act 3, Xenia begs Dimitrij to have mercy on Shuisky. Marina realises the link between the two and reveals Dimitrij's humble origins, but he nevertheless intends to remain ruler.

Finally, in Act 4 Xenia mourns her betrayed love. Marina, however, has Xenia killed and reveals Dimitrij's origins. Dimitrij is finally shot by Shuisky.
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