Prince Igor, who is about to start on a campaign against the Khan Konchak of
the Polovtsians, refuses to heed the warnings of his wife and his people who
interpret a recent eclipse as a bad omen. Prince of Galich (Kniaz Galitsky)
bribes Skoula and Eroshka to encourage Prince Igor in his determination to
depart as he himself wants to usurp Igor’s place. Igor unsuspectingly entrusts
his wife to his care.
Scene I is laid in the Galich Prince’s courtyard, where the people are
welcoming him as their prince. A group of young women beg the prince to restore
one of their friends whom he has carried off; but he frightens them away. Scene
II. The young women appeal to Yaroslavna, Igor’s wife, who is lamenting Igor’s
absence in Putyvl, and while they are relating the story, Galich Prince enters.
Yaroslavna questions him as to the truth of their story and he only laughs. Word
is brought that Igor and his son have been taken captive, and that an attack
upon them is imminent.
The Polovtsian Camp: Vladimir, son of Igor, has fallen in love with
Konchakovna, a daughter of Khan Konchak. She is sure her father will consent to
the marriage, but Vladimir is doubtful if his father will. Konchak offers Igor
freedom if he will promise not to wage war on him again, but he refuses.
Igor learns that an attack is to be made on his city. He escapes. He tries to
persuade his son to accompany him, but Konchakovna clings to him, and the father
leaves alone. When the Khan learns of Igor’s escape, he refuses to pursue,
retains Vladimir as a hostage, and marries him to his daughter.
Igor arrives safely at the city Kremlin, and is welcomed with great
(Note: In the new production by the Kirov Opera under Valery
Gergiev, recorded in 1995, a new Mariinsky Theatre edition of the music was
used, and the acts were performed in the following order: Prologue, II, I, III,
IV, so as to create more alternation between Russian and Polovetsian settings.)
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