by Marsha Dubrow
Elizabeth Peyton, 'Andro', 2013, pastel on paper. In Metropolitan Opera's Gallery Met show 'Imaginary Portraits: Prince Igor'. Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth Peyton and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.
The Metropolitan Opera's Gallery Met will open its largest show ever on Jan. 31, "Imaginary Portraits: Prince Igor", to celebrate the company's new production of Borodin's "Prince Igor" -- the opera's first performances there since 1917.
The opera, based on the real 12th-century Russian warlord Prince Igor, who made a significant impact on medieval Russian history, opens Feb. 6.
Borodin's four-act opera was completed by Glazunov and Rimsky-Korsakov after Borodin died at age 53 in 1887.
(Roll over Borodin, and tell Glazunov and Rimsky-Korsakov the news: their opera would be the basis for the 1953 musical "Kismet". Its hit "Stranger in Paradise" is adapted from the "Prince Igor" Polovtsian Dances.)
The portraits are imaginary because there's no visual record of the prince.
One of Gallery Met's 23 imaginary portraits is by architect David Adjaye, the lead designer for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, now being built on the National Mall.
Additional innovative choices for the exhibit's imaginative portraitists areNew York fashion designer Thom Browne, who sported a gray mask with huge bunny ears at his Paris Fall 2014 show in January, and "New Yorker" art critic Peter Schjeldahl.
The show's 20 prominent artists include Peter Doig, whose retrospective "No Foreign Lands" is at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from Jan. 25 to May 4; Performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson; Dana Schutz; and Elizabeth Peyton.
Borodin was the illegitimate son of Russian Prince Gedeanov. The composer was also a distinguished professor and writer on chemistry.
"Music is a pastime, a relaxation from more serious occupations," Borodin wrote in 1867.
Marsha Dubrow writes the DC Art Travel column on examiner.com. Her arts and travel stories have run in National Geographic Traveler, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, as well as World Footprints. She was a Correspondent for Life, People, Punch, and Reuters. Dubrow earned an M.F.A. in Writing and Literature at Bennington College, which published her book, Single Blessedness. Her essays and fiction appear in anthologies including When Last on the Mountain and Still Going Strong.