Chapter

Sex and Race, Russian Style

Richard Taruskin

in On Russian Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249790
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942806 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520249790.003.0016
Sex and Race, Russian Style

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This chapter addresses the popular, albeit slightly conservative, notion that operas, in order to be fully comprehended, shall have to be dissociated from realms of conventional morality. This has been one of the instruments employed to purge Wagner's work of its anti-Semitic content, or rather the obviousness of its contemporary and subjective political incorrectness. The chapter takes up Prince Igor, ostensibly Borodin's masterpiece but which might as well add feathers to all those who toiled to erect it, post-Borodin: Rimsky, Alexander Glazunov, and Pavel Lamm. Refined over a vast duration, the opera boiled down to certain levels of Kitschism, and resulted in substantial morphing of elements within the opera, incorporated originally with the intention of portraying sex and racist opinions. While the intention remained intact, the expression assumed substantial changes. Thus, the operatic adaptation marked a discontinuity between the author's original artistic intentions, the actual correspondence of the period, and the on-stage representation.

Keywords: Borodin; Prince Igor; Rimsky; Pavel Lamm; kitsch; Alexander Glazunov; anti-Semitic

Chapter.  2622 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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