• A close-reading analysis of a scene in Musorgsky’s Khovanshcina leads to identifying a “musical tropes”—the musical metaphor termed as the “musical synecdoche.” The musical metaphor requires a more creative or integrative act on the part of the listener, one that leads to an emergent meaning—and probably a more complex meaning. Musical tropology, likewise metaphor in language, becomes a key tool in approaching the musical work. One of the characteristic elements in the poetic arsenal of Gogol, a technique termed by Boris Eikhenbaum as the “Gogolian mask,” re-appears in Musorgsky’s last opera, Khovanshchina. We find a literary legacy being adapted for a musical genre.
    In Conversation about Dante, Mandelstam apprehends what lies at the bottom of the Gogolian mask, assuming a physiology-based operation for “poetics in action” in Divina Commedia: “The art of speech distorts the face, bursts its quietness, tears off its mask…” Musorgsky’s adaptation of Gogol’s mask—as though it were placed on this Dantean base—are in stunning accordance with Mandelstam’s observations on Dante.