Australian conductor, Jessica Cottis is to conduct Chelsea Opera Groups concert performance of Borodin’s masterpiece, ‘Prince Igor’ at London’s, Cadogan Hall on the 22nd of October. Famous for its soaring melodies and dances the opera is sadly rarely performed. The cast includes Australian baritone, Joshua Bloom.
Saturday 22nd October 2016
Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin (1834-1887)
Concert performance sung in English.
Jessica is to conduct our Tait Winter Prom at St John’s Smith Square on Wednesday 30th November.
Opera in 4 acts* by Alexander Borodin (1833 – 1887)
Libretto adapted by the composer from the Ancient Russian epic The Lay of Igor’s Host., which recounts the campaign of Rus prince Igor Svyatoslavich against the invading Cuman (“Polovtsian”) tribes in 1185. He also incorporated material drawn from two medieval Kievan chronicles. The opera was left unfinished upon the composer’s death in 1887 and was edited and completed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov.
First performed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1890.
* Act 3 will be omitted in this performance.
Russian opera’s most melodious epic was many years in the making. Like his colleagues in the Nationalist circle of composers known as the ‘mighty little handful’ (‘moguchaya kuchka’), Alexander Borodin had extra-musical fish to fry. His ‘other’ career, in fact, was the most distinguished of all; as Professor of Chemistry, he was responsible for a discovery still known to science as ‘the Borodin reaction’.
The reaction he won in music was to his strong sensual vein and his knack of pouring forth good tunes (as the kitsch oriental musical Kismet acknowledged in the 20th century). Like most Russians, he was fascinated by the lure of the east, and the scenes in which Prince Igor of ancient Russia is detained in the camp of the hospitable enemy, Khan Konchak of the Polovtsian tribe, are among the most dazzling and brilliantly orchestrated in music: as well as the famous dances the genius quotient in the arias and duet is extremely high, even if his colleagues Rimsky-Korsakov and the younger Alexander Glazunov had a hand in completing many of the numbers during his lifetime and piecing together the whole opera following his death.
The lyric soprano role belongs to Yaroslavna, the wife he leaves behind in his home town of Putivl – a foil to the siren song of the mezzo playing Konchak’s daughter, with whom Igor’s son Vladimir falls in love. So there are laments, celebrations, vigorous dance sequences and splendid choruses: the very essence of Russian opera.
© 2016 David Nice
Tickets for the concert can be obtained from Cadogan Hall.