Opera in two acts
Music Director: Evgeny Samoilov
Stage Director: Yuri Alexandrov
Set and Costume Designer: Vyacheslav Okunev
Chief choirmaster: Natalya Popovich
Choirmaster: Yulia Senyukova
Lighting Designer: Irina Vtornikova
Running time: 3 hours 10 minutes with one intermission
Premiered on 16 April 2011
Recommended for 12+
The production of Borodin’s Prince Igor staged at the Novaya Opera is based on Glazunov and Rimsky-Korsakov’s version adapted by Yuri Alexandrov. Trying to bring home the message of The Tale of Igor's Campaign, which is somewhat concealed by Borodin’s beautiful music, the stage director highlights different key points.
Yuri Alexandrov, stage director:
While working on the opera, I pondered about what happens in Russia, about its historical role, what it’s like now and what it’ll be like in the future. The production at the Novaya Opera is a true story; this is what I see around. The opera is not about darkness, but about light. The light that exists in every human being and it has to be revealed. Alexander Borodin’s patriotic opera ‘Prince Igor’ makes a comeback to the Moscow stage after a 10-year break. Boris Pokrovsky’s legendary production of the opera was last performed at the Bolshoi in January 2002. Since then the Moscow public have enjoyed only rare concert performances of ‘Prince Igor’. My concept is focused on a person’s valour. For me, Yaroslavna is the embodiment of valour: she can endure all the people’s pain and she can even govern the country if necessary. She symbolizes loyalty to Russia. Prince Igor neglects his duties and God’s laws, whereas Yaroslavna has the virtue. Igor is a sufferer, and through suffering he redeems his sins. This is one of the messages of my production. We have lost the ability to repent and to admit to our mistakes. I think that faith is one of the few things that can stop us from falling into a spiritual abyss. This opera is about light that every person has. We have to reveal this light. That’s why the finale of our production is crowned with the most pacific and beautiful music the peasants’ chorus.
Evgeny Samoilov, music director of the production, Honoured Artist of Russia:
Novaya Opera performed this piece for the first time in January 2009 during the Epiphany Week Festival. The idea appeared in 2008, the year of the 175th anniversary of Borodin’s birth. Recent years have seen a renaissance of Russian cultural values. And that is why we felt it was important to turn to Russian music. It is also a pleasure for the audience to listen to and for the singers to perform this opera. The music is so rich, convincing and emotional that it is a value in itself.
Vyacheslav Okunev, designer of the production:
The focus of the Act 1 sets is the brick constructions. The red colour of bricks reminds me of gore. Those brick constructions symbolize ruins of cathedrals in central Russia that used to be white-washed, but are now neglected. Red brick is also the Kremlin; it is a number of houses on the outskirts of Russian cities. This colour makes me uneasy; it makes me think about Russian attitude to culture. That is how I feel the opera and I believe that the audience will feel and see it the same way.
The Kolobov Opera Choir, well-rehearsed and with perfect intonation, sounded reminiscent of Russian-Orthodox church choirs.
Conducted by Jan Latham-Koenig, the Kolobov Opera Orchestra poignantly emphasized the dramatic events, the opera’s many changing emotional climates, and competently contributed the sweeping dance rhythms.
«The Jerusalem Post»
2 October 2013
Russian opera values its traditions, whose musical and vocal elements provide this show with much of its quality, yet Alexandrov's staging, designed by Vyacheslav Okunev, remains a visual curiosity whose idiosyncrasies are sometimes unintentionally comic.
2 April 2014
Alexandrov’s production is ‘traditional’ in whatever sense you wish to take the word. It meant the chorus was static for a lot of the time and the main singers were left to adopt ‘park and bark’ performance technique, apart from some awkward cavorting between Vladimir and Konchakovna in their Act II tryst. However, a lack of frenetic stage action allows more focus on the singing and the Novaya didn’t disappoint. How glorious to hear a Russian chorus in full cry, basses plumbing the subterranean depths!
2 April 2014
You could say that it was ideologically naive in its refusal to explore the text’s dodgy Slavist implications, but the show has a winning sincerity of its own, and given the singers’ wholehearted conviction, I found its innocence beguiling. Sergey Artamonov, looking like John the Baptist, radiated troubled nobility, and Elena Popovskaya wallowed gorgeously in his wife Yaroslavna’s lament.
2 April 2014
By ending the opera not in triumph but with the unaccompanied elegiac chorus mourning Igor’s defeat — he takes a stance, close-focusing Igor’s nobility fortitude rather than portraying him as a virtual anti-hero. <…> The orchestra, under the inspired direction of Jan Latham-Koenig, is outstanding, matching what is overwhelming overkill for the eye with a lustrous and dynamic charge.
3 April 2014