From Russia, with love

Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor is rarely performed in the UK, which is a shame because as operas go, it has everything you could possibly want: romance, betrayal, passion, bloody war and the odd instalment of light-hearted, comedic respite. Rarer still is the presence of the Kolobov Novaya Opera Theatre of Moscow in the Capital – this being their first ever visit to the UK, in fact – making this week’s short but sweet, five-performance-only stint at the home of the ENO, all the more special.

Hailed as the most Russian of Russian operas, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in for a solid three hours of the stark and serious, but you’d be wrong. Under the baton of Jan Latham-Koenig, we were treated to an opening night of full-on thrilling entertainment that had us gripped to our seats and wide-eyed with wonder, such were the rousing (and recognisable) sounds of the Polovtsian Dances and the literally glittering costumes of Khan Gzak’s cavorting courtiers – a feast for both ears and eyes.

Sergey Artamonov’s Igor was predictably intense and brooding, Evgeny Stavinsky’s Prince of Galich made for a swaggering and sexy villain, while Elena Popovskaya’s Yaroslavna cut a tragic, yearning figure with a voice that only a venue as grand as the Coliseum could possibly contain. Our Russian visitors are only here until Saturday, so with a spattering of seats still available (and we really do mean a smattering), you’d be wise to drop what you’re doing right now and get booking.