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Arts & Culture

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: Prince Igor

Ildar Abdrazakov as Prince Igor Svyatoslavich in Borodin's "Prince Igor."
Courtesy of Cory Weaver/Metropolitan
Ildar Abdrazakov as Prince Igor Svyatoslavich in Borodin's "Prince Igor."

Airs Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 1 p.m. on KPBS TV

Now in its 40th Anniversary Season on PBS, GREAT PERFORMANCES is still the only place on television where you can see the best in music, opera, theater, dance and popular song from across America and around the world.

Ildar Abdrazakov as Prince Igor Svyatoslavich in Borodin's "Prince Igor."
Courtesy of Cory Weaver/Metropolitan
Ildar Abdrazakov as Prince Igor Svyatoslavich in Borodin's "Prince Igor."
Oksana Dyka as Yaroslavna in Borodin's "Prince Igor."
Courtesy of Cory Weaver/Metropolitan
Oksana Dyka as Yaroslavna in Borodin's "Prince Igor."
Sergey Semishkur as Vladimir Igorevich and Anita Rachvelishvili as Konchakovna in Borodin's "Prince Igor."
Courtesy of Cory Weaver/Metropolitan
Sergey Semishkur as Vladimir Igorevich and Anita Rachvelishvili as Konchakovna in Borodin's "Prince Igor."
Mikhail Petrenko as Prince Galitsky in Borodin's "Prince Igor."
Courtesy of Cory Weaver/Metropolitan
Mikhail Petrenko as Prince Galitsky in Borodin's "Prince Igor."
Ildar Abdrazakov as Prince Igor Svyatoslavich and Stefan Kocán as Khan Konchak in Borodin's "Prince Igor."
Courtesy of Cory Weaver/Metropolitan
Ildar Abdrazakov as Prince Igor Svyatoslavich and Stefan Kocán as Khan Konchak in Borodin's "Prince Igor."

Borodin’s operatic masterpiece "Prince Igor," which had its first Met performances since 1917 earlier this year, will be broadcast on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET. The acclaimed new production by director Dmitri Tcherniakov, in his Met debut, stars Ildar Abdrazakov as the heroic title character, a 12th-century ruler who defended Russia against invading Polovtsian forces. Gianandrea Noseda, a specialist in Russian music, conducts a new edition of the opera — left unfinished by Borodin at the time of his death in 1887 — which has been specially created for this Met production.

The cast also includes Ukrainian soprano Oksana Dyka in her Met debut as Igor’s wife, Yaroslavna; Anita Rachvelishvili as the fiery Polovtsian princess Konchakovna; Russian tenor Sergey Semishkur in his Met debut as Igor’s son, Vladimir Igorevich; Mikhail Petrenko as Yaroslavna’s brother, Prince Galitsky; and Štefan Kocán as Khan Konchak, leader of the Polovtsian forces.

"Prince Igor" was performed at the Met just 10 times between 1915 and 1917, always in an Italian translation. The opera then fell out of the company’s repertory, though it continues to be performed regularly elsewhere, particularly in Russia, where it is part of the standard operatic repertory. In 1953, Robert Wright and George Forrest adapted parts of the score, as well as other Borodin compositions, into the Broadway musical "Kismet," best-known for the standard “Stranger in Paradise” which is set to the music of one of "Prince Igor’s" Polovtsian Dances.

For the Met production, Noseda and Tcherniakov have constructed a new edition of the opera using recent research that incorporates all the known music and orchestration by Borodin. This edition also makes significant changes to the order of scenes in the opera and includes three pieces of newly orchestrated material by Pavel Smelkov, the Russian composer and conductor. Bass-baritone Eric Owens hosts the broadcast.

The New York Times called the Met’s "Prince Igor" “(a) revelatory production… [Tcherniakov's] wonderful staging is dreamlike, wrenchingly human and viscerally theatrical,” praising the “impressive cast” and the “Met chorus…at its glorious best.” And New York Magazine observed that “[As the country] welcomed the world to the Winter Games, the Metropolitan Opera mounted its own imperial Russian spectacular… [with a score that] bubbles with irresistible tunes and gaudy contrasts, with the exotic Polovtsians moving in sinuous oriental dances while Russians answer with thick-soled marches and honest folk songs.”

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET is a presentation of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

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