Academic journal article Notes

A[lexander] P[orfir'yevich] Borodin

Academic journal article Notes

A[lexander] P[orfir'yevich] Borodin

Article excerpt

A[lexander] P[orfir'yevich] Borodin. Knyaz' Igor' = Prince Igor: Opera. Libretto kompozitora = Libretto by the Composer. Klavir = Piano Score: Avtorskaya redaktsiya = Original Version Izdaniye podgotovleno A[nnoy] V[alentinovnoy] Bulichovoy = Edited by Anna Bulycheva. Moscow: Classica-XXI, 2012. [Foreword in Rus., Eng., p. 5-7; characters, Rus., Eng., p. 8; vocal score, p. 9-306; appendices, p. 307-33; ill., p. 334, 350; crit. report in Rus., Eng. (abridged), p. 335-57; contents in Rus, Eng., d. 358-59. ISMN 979-0-706365-44-2. 950 rubles.]

Lo and behold, a scholarly edition of Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor! The Russian polymath's "unwieldy ... torso," as Richard Taruskin aptly describes it in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (ed. Stanley Sadie, 4 vols. [London: Macmillan, 1992], 3:1,098), was about the last canonical Russian opera not available in an edition billed as scholarly--although no other major Russian opera, excepting only Modest Musorgsky's Khovanshchina, begged for critical treatment as much as this one. (WTiether the complete edition of Mikhail Glinka's works lives up to its scholarly pretension is of course questionable.)

Borodin worked on his opera from 1869 until his death in 1887. The nine musical numbers that he completed in full score received concert performances in his lifetime; Bessel published three of these in 1885 with an authorized French text by Louise Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau. More scenes and numbers existed in short score or piano reduction, while a few were never committed to paper. Such was the situation that Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov and his young student Alexander Glazunov faced when they took it upon themselves to produce a stage-worthy edition (hereinafter: "traditional version") of the opera after Borodin's death. Published in 1888 by M. P. Belaieff, it became a staple of Russian opera houses. In the West, Prince Igor has always remained on the fringe of the repertory. Still, its February 2014 production at the Metropolitan Opera has demonstrated that it is far from dead.

When Rimsky-Korsakov's emendations to Musorgsky's music became obvious, his editions of Borodin's came under scrutiny too--with the expected results. However, a proposed complete academic edition of Borodin's works by Pavel Lamm stalled in the 1940s. Lamm's manuscript vocal score of Prince Igor remains at the Glinka Museum in Moscow (RUS-Mcm, f. 192 no. 60). Interestingly, Lamm left Glazunov's newly composed music for the overture and act 3 as well as the traditional sequence of scenes untouched.

A handful of fragments absent from the traditional version have been published over the years. Anatoly Dmitriyev edited the 1875 version of Prince Igor's aria, sometimes described as a "monologue," in Notnoye prilozheniye k zhurnalu "Sovetskaya muzika" [music supplement to the journal Sovetskaya muzika], an extra volume that came with the November 1950 issue of the journal (pp. 20-29). Alexander Nefyodov followed this up with his Aleksandr Borodin: Khory bez soprovozhdeniya i v soprovozhclenii fortepiano [choruses unaccompanied and with piano accompaniment] (Moscow: Muzika, 1977), an anthology including some scenes from Prince Igor that Rimsky-Korsakov had either discarded (Vladimir Galitsky's revolt) or heavily cut and edited. I myself published the 1881 version of Prince Igor's aria, whose autograph had not been known to musicologists before (Albrecht Gaub and Melanie Unseld, Ein Furst, zwei Prinzessinnen und vier Spieler: Anmerkungen zum Werk Aleksandr Borodins, Studia Slavica Musicologica, 6 [Berlin: Ernst Kuhn, 1994], 54-72); unlike the scenes published by Dmitriev and Nefyodov, however, the aria was familiar from the traditional version, but only with Rimsky-Korsakov's emendations.

Many productions of the opera, including the recent one at the Met, have aimed at eliminating the shares of Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov. In Russian common practice, act 3 is simply dropped from the traditional version. …

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