Russia Theatre Opera Prince Igor

Prince Igor

Nicholas Roerich first worked on Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor in 1909, when Sergei Diaghilev included individual pieces from the opera in his Saisons Russes in Paris. Diaghilev took a full performance of the opera, in four acts with prologue, to Drury Lane in London in 1914. He again invited Roerich to design the sets and costumes.

Fyodor Chaliapin sang the part of Khan Konchak and the opera enjoyed great success with the British public. Roerich, however, was unable to attend the premiere. Designer Orest Allegri wrote to tell him: “Prince Igor was mounted last night to a full house. It was a staggering success, the British were screaming with delight!”

Roerich designed the sets and costumes in record time, beginning work in late 1913 and finishing in early 1914. His sets and costumes corresponded perfectly to stage director Alexander Sanin’s vision of Rus at the time of Prince Igor – “Christian feelings, beliefs and customs intermingling with elements of paganism” – and were an important factor in the success of the opera in London.

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