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Prince Igor

The Ballet Russe Collection

One-act ballet choreographed by Michel Fokine.
Music by Alexander Borodin (Polovtsian Dances , from his opera Prince Igor .
Original decor by Nicholas Roerich; decor for the Ballet Russe production by C. Korovine.
Premier: Paris, May 18, 1909, by the Ballets Russes de Serge de Diaghilev.

Prince Igor, one of the ballets inherited from the Diaghilev repertoire, was one of the early works to figure in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo's program, and remained a favorite for several seasons (1938-45, 1949-51, 1954-55).

This is purely a dance ballet, without any connection with the plot of the opera. When it was first performed with full chorus and orchestra, the ballet served to introduce to Western Europe the unimagined color of Russian music and dancing combined in a striking single work. The scene, when the curtain rises, is suffused in the violet light of the approaching dawn. The light of two campfires is thrown against two great tents made of animal skins. Gathered about the fires, the men and women of the Polovtsy tribe sleep soundly. In the distance, around other campfires, other members of the tribe are curled in sleep. A lone warrior stands on watch...

George Balanchine, Balanchine's Complete Stories of the Great Ballets