Why I walked out on the Met’s Prince Igormain
Steve Rubin, former New York Times arts writer turned leading publisher, had – for once in his life – seen enough. An exclusive report for Slipped Disc.
Photo: Cory Weaver
Borodin’s PRINCE IGOR hasn’t been perfor med at the Met in almost 100 years. The current team decided to bring the work back to its origins, by sacking the tampering of Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov, both of whom tried to stitch together the scenes left by Borodin after his death. Say goodbye to the gorgeous overture; it was written by Glazunov. Director/designer Dmitri Tcherniakov has in essence produced “his” edition of the piece.
Musically, I can only comment on the performance, not the edition. Dramatically, I think the Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov made some interesting choices, none of which panned out. It all started with a multi-media approach–Igor projected on a screen. But it led nowhere. The prologue takes place indoors, thus diminishing the scene’s major event, an eclipse of the sun. Act I takes place on a field of poppies, which is visually striking, but ultimately gets in the way of the action.
There wasn’t a single singer who stood out. Unquestionably, the best vocalist on stage was the charismatic bass Ildar Abdrazakov, but his voice is at least three sizes too small for Igor at the Met (as it was for Attila). Gianandrea Noseda, the conductor, was more than competent, but rarely exciting. And the Met chose to lose 72 seats by allowing the chorus to sing from the side boxes in the famous Polovtsian Dances. It was fabulous because of the singing, but the choreography by Itzik Galili, was ludicrous, not helped at all by the endless poppies.
When we returned from the first interval, my lovely companion asked, “want to go?” Without a moment’s hesitation, we fled.