Founding of Russia told in Metropolitan Opera production broadcast at Douglass Theatre

March 28, 2014 

Ildar Abdrazakov stars as Prince Igor Svyatoslavich and Oksana Dyka stars as Yaroslavna in The Metropolitan Opera’s production of Borodin’s “Prince Igor.”

CORY WEAVER — Metropolitan Opera

For the first time in about 100 years, Alexander Borodin’s Russian epic “Prince Igor” has come to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, and on Saturday the four-hour production will be shown at the Douglass Theatre as part of the Met’s HD broadcast series.

Borodin is said to have left the score for this opera “in a shambles” at his death, but the work was subsequently completed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov.

The Met’s current production, “reconceived” by director Dmitri Tcherniakov, rearranges some of the material. In February at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, music from this opera was reportedly played, showing the connection between the story of “Prince Igor” and early Russian history.

The opera tells the tale of the founding of the Russian nation, and much of the cast in the Met production is made up of Russian performers, although Igor’s wife is the Ukrainian soprano Oksana Dyka, which adds an interesting twist in light of recent events. Bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov sings the title role.

The plot itself is said to be based on an anonymous 12th-centruy epic poem. Igor, the Russian prince, is campaigning against the marauding Polovtsians; he is defeated and taken captive along with his son Vladimir, who falls in love with the comely daughter of Khan Konchak, the ruler of the Polovtsians. Igor, however, escapes and vows to fight on.

One of the best-known aspects of this work is said to be the music for the Polovtsian dances. Also attracting considerable attention is Tcherniakov’s directing and dream-like staging (he designs his own sets) that emphasize Igor’s feelings of guilt and despair.

Termed a “long-absent marvel,” this is a work that is rarely staged, making the Met revival one that opera enthusiasts will not want to miss.

“Prince Igor”

When: 1 p.m. March 29

Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Cost: $24 adults, $20 seniors

Information: www.metopera.org/hdlive; 478-742-2000

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