I’m passionate about anything Russian, so I jumped at the chance to see the Kolobov Novaya Opera’s production of Prince Igor, an opera by Borodin left unfinished at his death and finished off by Glazunov and Rimsky-Korsakov. With my limited understanding and appreciation of opera, I wondered whether I would enjoy it, but it seems that this production is the one which finally cracked my aversion – I enjoyed it wholeheartedly.
With lush sets and glorious costumes, this production, directed by Yuri Alexandrov, is a traditional one. In some respects it is a shame there was no attempt to explore the problematic themes of Slavic superiority and conquest, especially given Russia’s behaviour in recent months, but in another sense it was lovely to simply concentrate on the plot, staging and song.
A criticism I have levelled at opera in the past is that I find it over-the-top and silly, but in a production like this, set in a historical, almost fantastical world, the dramatic nature of the music was completely suited. There was tremendous singing, particularly from Sergey Artamonov and Elena Popovskaya as the Prince and his wife, and the music was outstanding – I would seriously consider getting hold of a recording, which is something I never thought I’d say about an opera score. The production closed with some wonderfully haunting choral voices, a superb ending to a brilliant evening.