One of The Mighty Five, Mussorgsky died in 1881 a destitute man with an alcohol problem. His decline was quick and his fall from grace deep. He was not able to finish the two operas he was working on at the time, one if which is this comical opera. Attempts at finishing it have been undertaken by a succession of composers. This is the version by Visserion Shebalin, created in 1931, and by far the most popular of the reconstructions. The opera never was popular in western operatic performance.
Part of this opera is also the Night on the bald mountain, here as a dream sequence. It is better known as a tone poem about St John’s Eve, and is usually performed as a separate orchestral piece. Other well known parts of the opera are the Overture and the closing Gopak, a Ukrainian dance.