The Imperial Themes of Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor

Main Article Content

Justin Wytmar


Nineteenth-century Russia produced no shortage of opulent cultural masterpieces, and chief among them was Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin’s stunning opera, Prince Igor. This medieval tale of a Russian prince’s struggle against the encroaching Turkic hordes of the Polovtsy embodies all the most popular nationalistic and romantic aspects of the nineteenth-century Russian cultural output. However, analysis of the opera’s themes shows the opera endorses not only nationalism, but imperialism. When the contemporary Russian invasion of Central Asia is considered, it is evident that Prince Igor serves as a justification for Russian Imperial expansion by developing themes of the Christian civilizing mission, Orientalism, and the “Great Man” theory.

Article Details