Opera by Alexander Borodin
characters and Cast:
Polovtsian Dances Soloists
Prince Igor summons his troops for a campaign against the Polovtsians, pagan noimads. The nation entreats God that he may bring victory to Igor, who is prepared to put at stake both his life and that of his next of kin, among whom is his son Vladimir. Suddenly the sky goes dark due to a solar eclipse that the people interpret as a bad omen. Therefore they implore Igor not to conduct the campaign, and Igor’s wife Yaroslavna begs him to stay at home. But Igor does not allow himself to be overwhelmed by doubts because he wishes to win the battle at any price. He bid s farewell to his wife and comforts her declaring that she should not worry but wait for the news of victory. He entrusts her to the custody of her brother, Prince Vladimir Galitsky.
Celebration at the Palace of Prince Vladimir Galitsky
Galitsky prepares a lavish feast. The voluptuous party is amused by Skula and Eroshka, who have deserted Igor’s troops and now curry favor with Galitsky. Despite his modest power, Galitsky dreams of sending Yaroslavna to a convent and of ridding himself of Igor, so he could take over and rein in Putyvl, indulging in a happy life of debauchery. Maidens rush in and beg Prince Galitsky to free their companion: she was abducted by his men for pleasure. But Galitsky chases them off coldly. The boozing reaches its peak. Skula and Eroshka join in the drunken party’s praising of Galitsky and his evil plan.
At Yaroslavna’s palace
Yaroslavna is haunted by sinister dreams. It has been long since she last heard of Igor and his son Vladimir, and Galitsky’s anger aggravates her unrest. Her thoughts are interrupted by the maidens chased from Galitsky’s court. They desperately beg her for help and protection against the Prince. Yaroslavna cannot for all her determination, bring the Prince to his senses. He rejects her, uttering threats that he will soon take over the prince`s throne. The Boyars return with news of Igor’s defeat. The power of the prince is waning while the Polovtsians are attacking Russia. The bells chime. The Polovtsians are at the gates of Putyvl. Now the boyars and the people are determined to defend their town and homeland against the enemy.
The Polovtsian Encampment
Defeated Igor and Vladimir are prisoners of the Polovtsian Khan Konchak. The Polovtsian maidens try to cheer up Konchakovna, the daughter of Khan Konchak, who is absorbed in thought: She is waiting for Vladimir, to whom she wishes to declare her love. Night falls on the steppe. Vladimir appears, and the two lovers are united in love. Their dreams of happiness are interrupted by Igor, tormented by black thoughts. He can hardly bear the ignominy of defeat and imprisonment, longing for freedom so he can continue the battle. He has also tender thoughts about his wife Yaroslavna. Unexpectedly the Polovtsian Ovlur, who is a baptized Christian and a friend of the Russians steps up to him. He offers him the possibility to flee, which Igor rejects declaring that a dishonorable escape is not worthy of a Russian prince. Khan Konchak returns with a rich booty and prisoners from his victorious campaign against Putyvl. He hosts Igor as a guest of honour, promising freedom in exchange for Igor’s pledge not to fight the Polovtsians. Igor thanks him for his hospitality, but cannot accept the deal because, once free, he would immediately summon his troops for a second attack against the Polovtsians.
At the Cemetery of Destroyed Putyvl
Yaroslavna, who has abandoned any hope that Igor might return, bitterly mourns her and her country’s destiny. Her lamentations are accompanied by a song from passing villagers, who mourn their scorched earth. Yaroslavna suddenly catches sight of Prince Igor and Ovlur, who has helped the Prince escape.
Konchakovna and Vladimir cannot resign themselves to separation, but Vladimir remains loyal to his father and flees. Konchakovna, equally loyal to her father, calls forth the Polovtsians. Konchak wakes up and Konchakovna reveals to him that Vladimir has fled with Igor. Vladimir has not got far and is quickly brought back. Konchak does not, however, punish him, but offers him his daughter’s hand instead. The sound of trumpets announces the arrival of Igor and Yaroslavna, who wish to greet the young couple and to invite them to their court. Konchak is happy that love has prevailed over Igor’s hatred and insatiability. He orders festivities for the marriage and appeasement of the two peoples who were at enmity for too long.