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Split personality. Liking the arts, especially opera, and hockey and Los Toros. I know, I know THAT one is non pc currently. But I can't help it saw some in Spain and got hooked, but good. But on the other hand right now opera and hockey are in the forefront!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin

In an eerie deja vu kind of way.....
This afternoon I saw Prince Igor (Live from The Met) on the day the Russian Army invaded Crimea, on command of a modern day"Prince" ;-) Vladimir Putin. And the end will certainly be, as in the opera, devastation and death!
In the opera, whose plot is a bit difficult to follow, especially for non-Russian speakers (despite the excellent subtitles). In olden day's Prince Igor Syvatoslavich, bassbariton hunky Ildar Abdrazakov leaves wife Yaroslavna, soprano extraordinaire Oksana Dyka, and folks, behind in Putivl to attack the marauding Polovtsians and their Khan Konchak in the company of his son Prince Vladimir Igorevich, sung by Sergey Semishkur (video clip below). He entrusts the people and his wife to care of his brother-in-law Prince Vladimir Yaroslavich Galitzky. and acts like Mikhail Petrenko (with Semishkur in video clip)
Petrenko as Galitzky abusing Dyka as his sisterYaroslavna
Who, with his Svengali-like (in this production) musicians Skula (Vladimir Ognovenko) and Yeroshka (Andrey Popov), abducts maidens, drinks to excess,  and behaves abhorrently towards all, as well as his sister, the Princess. Proclaiming himself the proper successor to Igor is next on his agenda, but the arrival of the conquering Polovetsian hordes puts an end to that, and him!
But, by golly, we love a villain, especially if he sings and acts like Petrenko does...

he reminded my a bit of a former Aeros goalie-Anton Khudobin
 Yes, he did, a bit, at first. This is Mikhail Petrenko. So what do you think, cher reader?

The Khan (Kocan) offers a pact to Igor
Dyka and Abdrazako-in a dreamsequence?
Igor is defeated and captured with his son by the Khan, sung by Stefan Kocan, who treats him well, offering him to share the rule over all of Russia. Igor refuses and escapes with the help of baptized Polovtsian Ovlur sung by Mikhail Vekua, (I had to google this because it is not overt in the opera) to return to a Putivl, devastated by the hordes of Khan Gzak, whilst his son Vladimir stays behind with his lover. the Khan Konchak's daughter Konchakovna, mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili..
The famous Polovetsian Dances - you expected Russian and Asian costumes perhaps? - are danced by semi-naked boys and white clad maidens amidst fields of red, red poppies. This section has a dreamlike feel to it, a misty, hazy feel. But the music just asks for it (Strangers in paradise-remember?) We are confused, is it real? Or a figment of Igor's battle crazed mind? Well, whatever it is meant to be, one thing is sure.. most do love the sleek bodies of the limber dancers, and the Maiden solo was performed by Houston Opera Studio Alumna Kiri Deonarine.... brava! Dmitri Tscherniakov's direction pointed the way to a more in depth treatment of battle with the use of projections in black and white - like in silent films. Gianandrea Noseda led orchestra, huge chorus and supers beautifully! And he is NOT Russian. But then, some of Borodin's music is just so lyrically romantic. Now, I was quite enthralled with the quality of the singers, all Russian speakers, even if born in Georgia (Rachvelishvili), Ukraine (Dyka) and Slovakia (Kocan), or Bashkortostan (Abdrazakov), Kirov (Semishkur), and St. Petersburg (Petrenko). If you love deep manly voices this opera is for you. There are only 2 tenors, all others are basses, bass baritones. I, for one,  love that sound!!
And the icing on the cake:
Bass Eric Owens (another HOStudio alum) was the sonorous sounding Master of Ceremony with perfect diction! He reeled off all those names with complete ease!
Brava! Bravo!...I just like seeing/hearing our HGO studio alums.

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