1: The Theater represents a magnificent hall,
with a vaulted ceiling, in the middle with windows, the
sides surrounded by stately seats and decorated with exquisite
tapestries, the Czar's throne in the middle on the right
of which is placed the imperial orb on a silver pyramid,
to the left of a golden pitcher. Theodorus is on the throne,
Irina, Boris, Fedro, Ivan, all the Bojars and Kneeses
according to their ranks in the seats, guards, etc.
the czarina, celebrates with the assembled crowd a time
of peace and prosperity. Theodoro, the Czar, complains
that his burden is too great to carry alone and to universal
applause, appoints Boris mayor of Moscow.
2: The Palace rooms of the Czarina with alcoves:
Fedro declares his forbidden love to Irina—she councils
him to caution. Boris, Ivan and Gavust enter, thereby
completing the Boris faction. The plan of the Czar to
divorce Irina must be thwarted, and the intentions of
Josennah must be investigated. They plot together to bring
Boris to the throne and Fedro mentions that the Czar has
taken ill. Bogda, who has slept the whole time, is awoken
by his own snoring. He is furious that all the noise about
the Czar's illness has robbed him of his sleep.
4: Princess Olga and Josennah represent the other
faction, first in a kind of ménage-a-trois with
Gavust. Josennah meets Axinia and expresses his sympathy
with the Czar. He should hurry to find out what the Czar
means by "our situation." By marrying Axinia,
Josennah should get the support of his hoped for father-in-law.
Olga wants to use her connections to the Kneesen class
to ensure Josennah's election as Czar. As a reward, she
hopes to gain Josennah's affection. But before Josennah
leaves, he overhears Axinia and Gavust profess their love
to one another. He accuses Axinia of deceit and flees.
Gavust pursues him in a rage, but finally returns to the
humiliated Axinia to reassure her.
8: The Boris faction meets again. The Czar will
soon die and the Fatherland must be protected. Ivan professes
his love for Olga.
9: The magnificent bedroom of the Czar. Theodorus
on a stool, crown and scepter on the table. Next to him
stand the Patriarch, Boris, Irina, Axinia, Fedro, Ivan
and the rest of the Bojars.
Theodorus sings his swan song, Fedro implores him to name
a successor. The Czar proposes first Ivan, then Fedro.
Neither one wants to accept the scepter. The Czar throws
the scepter on the floor and dies. Boris lifts it up.
A meeting to select a new czar must be scheduled. After
the death of the Czar, Fedro hopes to gain the favor of
the widowed Irina.
1: An opulent tapestry room with a golden table.
Boris, carrying the scepter, Irina, Fedro, Ivan along
with the Royal council, gathered to select the new Czar.
In a four-part canon, Irina, Boris, Fedro, and Ivan express
their hopes for the future. Boris explains to the council
that he only picked up the scepter to get it off the floor.
He now lays it before the council so that they can freely
proceed in choosing the next Czar. Boris claims to be
tired of life at court and plans to retire to a life of
peace and devotion at a nearby cloister. His sister, Irina,
the czarina, wishes to join him there, to the dismay of
Fedro. Boris and Irina wish the council all the best in
resolving the nation's crisis.
2: Josennah plans to win over Axinia and to attain
the throne. To that end he tries to engage the services
of Boris's servant Bogda, but Bogda decides to accompany
his master to the tranquility of the cloister where he
can sleep until noon. Olga offers Josennah her connections,
her money and her power. They make a pact. Secretly, Josennah
feels sorry for Olga, because she deceives herself; only
Axinia sighs for him. Ivan, who overhears the conversation,
presumes that Olga is actually plotting against Josennah.
4: The theater changes into the Czar's Garden.
Ivan opens Axinia's eyes to the plans of Josennah and
Olga. Although he believes Axinia will soon notice Josennah's
falseness, a strengthening of the Josennah faction is
to be feared, making a quick response necessary. Axinia
tells Gavust of Josennah and Olga's plan and Gavust promises
7: The scene changes into a cloister. Boris and
Irina arrive at the cloister. To carry out their plan
they will have to abide the Spartan facilities there as
compared to life at court. Bogda sends both to their cells
as a crowd of old men and children appears at the gate
of the cloister. The old men have gray beards and are
dressed in black; the children are in white. They implore
Boris to rescue the kingdom by accepting the honor of
becoming Czar. The old men decry the desperate condition
of the kingdom which would result if Boris refuses. The
children see Russia as an orphan and beg Boris for fatherly
aid. Bogda, who fears the end of his carefree life at
the cloister, tries to scare them away with obscene, threatening
9: Fedro arrives to try and convince Irina to
leave the cloister. He claims the nation wishes to see
her again, adding under his breath that it is he who desires
her return to Moscow. She claims not to understand him,
but later says, "Save your explanation for a more
10: Ivan appears, carrying the scepter and crown
on a cushion, followed by the Bojars and Kneeses. He wishes
to hand the scepter to Boris and begs him to accept it:
Heaven and Earth unanimously request it. Irina supports
this request: What the people desire, what the children
want and the Princes wish, Boris should heed. Boris finally
gives in and agrees to offer himself for the good of the
kingdom. The assembled masses rejoice.
theater shows the Kremlin from outside. Josennah and Olga
acknowledge defeat. Ivan approaches them and challenges
Josennah to a duel. They fence. Gavust arrives to separate
them with his sword. He demands Josennah to explain his
deceit to Olga and Axinia. Instead of answering, Josennah
attacks Gavust, but he falls and Gavust gains the upper
hand. Gavust spares his life, but Josennah must promise
to leave the country forever. After Josennah is banished
Ivan asks Olga whether she is prepared to favor him because
of his steadfastness. She puts him off for the time being.
4: Axinia's Room: Axinia and Gavust are elated
to be together again, especially after such painful experiences.
Irina is unsure of her feelings for Fedro, yet she cannot
silence his entreaties. Bogda is annoyed about the new
situation with the Czar and wishes a return to the cloister
to a life of eating and sleeping.
6: The Throne Room, prepared for the Coronation.
Boris is crowned and announces a general amnesty. After
Irina finally allows her heart to speak, the three couples,
Axinia and Gavust, Ivan and Olga, Irina and Fedro are
united with the blessing of the Czar. Bogda is rewarded
with food, drink, a soft bed, and suspension of his responsibilities.
In a lively Chaconne, everyone celebrates the omnipotence
and generosity of Cupid.