Making of The Gambler (The) (Staatsoper unter den Linden, 2008)



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- (Disc 1)

Narrator: Didyk, Misha
Narrator: Rud, Viktor

Year of Production: 2008
Playing Time: 00:18:47
Catalogue Number: A05512344

Blame it on the Russian Revolution: it took Sergey Prokofiev (1891–1953) only a few months to write his early opera The Gambler between October 1915 and March 1916, but problems arose during rehearsals in January 1917, and the premiere in St. Petersburg (then Petrograd) had to be cancelled when the first revolution broke out in February. This first version of the work was never heard, since the composer revised the tempestuous score eleven years later, reducing it and eliminating what he considered "padding." The work was premiered in this version in Brussels in 1929.

Based on Dostoyevsky’s novel of the same name, The Gambler is a dark study of human failings and the corruptive power of money. In this work, everyone gambles: the hero Alexey, the General and even the wealthy aunt Babulenka gamble with money; Blanche, the Marquis and Polina – who loves Alexey – gamble with their fellow human beings. The results are humiliation, ruin and self-delusion. But when the Staatskapelle Berlin under world-famous conductor Daniel Barenboim provide the orchestral sound to the full, lustrous voices of Vladimir Ognovenko, Kristine Opolais, Misha Didyk, Stefania Toczyska and their colleagues, there is nothing even remotely dismal about the opera or its production.

Directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov, "the evening zips past entertainingly, yet leaves its traces in the listener's mind: a stroke of genius like Prokofiev's opera itself" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). One of the production's brilliant touches is the movable set which allows us to look into various rooms while the characters think they are not being observed. With its restless, intense drive, the music underscores the novelty of the work, which rejects heady arias and set pieces. The Prokofiev renaissance has reclaimed one of the composer's most daring, almost "futuristic" pieces from neglect – a work that is nothing less than "a discovery" (Süddeutsche Zeitung).

Part 1

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