The Screen:Borodin’s ‘Prince Igor’ Comes From Soviet
A. H. WEILER Dec. 22, 1972The dichotomy between movies and opera is obvious, but let’s cheerfully note that the different media have been effectively welded in the 1969 Soviet-made “Prince Igor,” which had its local premiere yesterday at the Regency. The Borodin opera, a staple onu the Russian boards but rarely done here, evolves as an eye-catching, event-filling, vintage folk adventure in film term that neatly complements the music, singers and dancers.The libretto of the opera (last staged here in 1969) basically may be a stylized, certainly unfamiliar mélange of battles between 12th-century Russian and Oriental chieftains and of court intrigue and romance. But with stilted, archaic English lyrics and a workmanlike script, the opera is projected in fairly cohesive sequences on screen.The acting principals are attractive professionals, who are only rarely hammy, even in closeups. And the use of what to untrained ears are fine vocalists to do their singing off-screen seems natural and logical, especially with the expert help of the Kirov Opera chorus, ballet and orchestra to back them up.Contributing lively, if serious, portrayals are Boris Khmelnitsky, as the proud, unconquerable Prince Igor, Bimbibulat Valayev, as his generous captor; I. Morgoyeva, as that Oriental chieftain’s pretty daughter who falls in love with Igor’s son; and Nelly Pshennaya, as Igor’s steadfast princess.Under the direction of Roman Tikhomirov (he also filmed “Eugene Onegin” and “Pique Dame”), Borodin’s score (themes of which were used in Broadway’s “Kismet”) and the Polovtsian Dances, come across tunefully and vividly. In using an imposing array of athletic Oriental dancers, as well as the ballet, it becomes an especially vigorous, strikingly exotic display.The camera, or course, is not bound by the confines of an opera house proscenium. And the varied action, filmed in pastel shades, is sweeping and colorful against backgrounds of steppes, rivers, a primitive town and clashing horsemen.As a movie, “Prince Igor” naturally is not standard screen fare. But it entertainingly succeeds in avoiding the static, stagy look of many previously filmed operas.
PRINCE IGOR, directed by Roman Tikhomirov; screenplay (sung in Russian with English subtitles) by I. Glikman; photographed by Alexander Chirov; music by Alexander Borodin; conductor, G. provotorov; released by Artkino Pictures, Inc.
At the Regency Theater, Broadway and 67th Street 21 December 1972 (New York City, New York). Running time: 110 minutes.
This film has not been classified at this time.
Prince Igor . . . . . Boris Khmelnitsky. sung by V. Kinlayev
Princess Yaroslavna . . . . . Nelly Pshennaya, sung by T. Milashkina
Vladimir . . . . . B. Tokarev, sung by V. Norcika
Konchak . . . . . Bimibulat Valayev, sung by Y. Nestaranko
Konchakovna . . . . . I. Morgoyeva, sung by I. Bogacheva
Prince Galitsky . . . . . A. Slasfin, sung by V. Malyshev
With: Ballet, chorus and orchestra of the Kirov Opera and Ballet, Leningrad.
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