Class of 1960 Lecture with Prof. Klara Moricz

Professor Klara Moricz of Amherst College gives a lecture titled The Passion of Marfa: History, Drama, and Mythology in Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina on Tuesday, April 23, at 4:15 p.m. in Bernhard Music Center Room 30 on the Williams College campus. This lecture is sponsored by the Class of 1960 Scholars Fund and is free and open to the public.

Unlike Boris Godunov, which Musorgsky first conceived without a female lead, his second historical opera Khovanshchina seems to have grown directly out of his female protagonist Marfa whom Musorgsky conceived as a “purely Russian woman” and called his “most beloved” character. Yet Marfa, a religious fanatic with a prophetic vision and passionate, sinful love for Andrei Khovansky, is hardly a coherent dramatic character. In this talk Professor Moricz explores this enigmatic figure, describing the historical context Musorgsky created around her, exploring the historical models that might have inspired the composer, and showing how the supersaturation of her role with radically different character types shatters her dramatic persona. Ultimately Marfa can be understood best not as a historical or dramatic character, but as a mythological figure endowed with the power to determine the fate of men.

The Class of 1960 Scholars Fund, established at their 25th Reunion, brings eminent researchers from other colleges and universities to campus to give colloquia and work with students in the classroom.