Opera Sergei Prokofiev "The Gambler" (Opera in Four Acts)|
World famous Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet and Opera - established 1783
Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes
The performance has 1 intermission
Schedule for Sergei Prokofiev "The Gambler" (Opera in Four Acts) 2017
Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
Costume Designer: Tatiana Noginova
Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko
Musical Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
Musical Preparation: Marina Mishuk
Lighting Designer: Gleb Filshtinsky
Set Designer: Zinovy Margolin
Stage Director: Temur Chkheidze
Revival Stage Director: Yuri Laptev
Orchestra: Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra
Opera in 4 act
Performed in Russian with synchronised English supertitles
Premiere of this production: 21 June 2007 , Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, Russia
The Gambler is an opera in four acts by Sergei Prokofiev to a Russian libretto by the composer, based on the story of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
•World premiere: 29 April 1929, Theatre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels
•First Mariinsky Theatre production: 5 December 1991
•Second Mariinsky Theatre production: 18 June 1996
•Third Mariinsky Theatre production: 21 June 2007
At Roulettenberg, a fictitious spa somewhere in Central Europe, 1865. In the Garden of the Grand Hotel, outside the casino, Alexei, age twenty-five, a tutor to the General’s family, encounters Pauline, the General’s ward, with whom he is in love, and tells her he followed her instructions to pawn her jewelry and gamble with the proceeds -- but lost. The General, a middle-aged man smitten with the much younger opportunist Blanche, enters with her, the coldly shrewd Marquis and an Englishman, Mr. Astley. Questioned about his losses, Alexei claims the money was his own, from the salary he had saved. When the others suggest that a person in his modest position ought not to gamble, Alexei irritablyand replies that life is too short to save money gradually. The General has just received a telegram from "Babushke," Pauline’s Grandma in Moscow, and goes off with the others to send a reply; they are all waiting for the old lady to die and leave them her money so they can gamble with it.
Pauline returns, annoyed that she now cannot repay her debts to the insidious Marquis. Alexei insists on his infatuation with her, but she senses cold greed beyond his hysteria. Their conversation is interrupted by the General, who has just borrowed money from the Marquis and gives Alexei a large bill to get changed. Pauline capriciously dares Alexei -- if he really loves her enough to do anything she asks -- to go and flirt with a German Baroness sitting in the park, thereby annoying her husband. He does so, creating a stir and causing the Baron and Baroness to leave.
In the lobby of the Grand Hotel, the General reprimands Alexei for his behavior. When the young man shows no sign of contrition, the General fires him. Alexei sticks to the view that he should be allowed to act as he wishes without interference. When Alexei leaves for a moment, the General tries unsuccessfully to enlist the Marquis’ help in dealing with him to prevent a scandal. As the two older men move off, Alexei returns, reflecting that everything is Pauline’s fault: it was she who put him up to addressing the Baroness. Astley greets Alexei, and they discuss the cause of the General’s apprehension: he is afraid any scandal might jeopardize his hopes of winning Blanche. At some point, it seems, Blanche had tried to borrow money from the Baron, causing a complaint from the Baroness. Since the Baron and Baroness are important people, the General wants to avoid further offending them. As the two men talk, Blanche passes through in search of the General. Astley goes on to explain that the General cannot propose to Blanche until he gets his inheritance from Grandma. Alexei takes the cynical view that since Pauline too will have an inheritance, she will then fall prey to the rapacious Marquis.
Astley takes his leave as the Marquis appears, bent on controlling Alexei’s behavior at the behest of the General. Finding the young man resistant, the Marquis wonders aloud how best to get around him, then produces a note from Pauline telling Alexei to stop acting like a schoolboy. Alexei calls the Marquis a usurer and a parasite, accusing him of making Pauline write the note. As Alexei leaves angrily, Blanche and the General appear, asking whether the Marquis had any success in dealing with Alexei. The Marquis pretends he had success, then turns to his chief topic of interest, Grandma’s imminent demise: how soon do they expect news of her?
No sooner has the General predicted her death that very night than Grandma’s voice is heard: she has arrived at the hotel, a picture of health. Though she greets Pauline with a certain affection, she quickly sees through the poses of the others. She announces she is over her illness and wants to recuperate at the spa, where she also looks forward to gambling. Blanche suspects the General of false promises, while the Marquis hopes his usual deceit and hypocrisy will be sufficient to deal with the old lady.
In an anteroom of the casino, the General is beside himself: Grandma has been gambling and losing large amounts, ignoring all entreaties to stop. His hopes of success with Blanche are evaporating. When the Marquis steps in to announce that Grandma’s losses are up to 40,000, the General decides it is time to call the police: surely they will see that she is senile and irresponsible, perhaps even send her to an asylum. No such luck, the Marquis assures him. Blanche makes another brief appearance, disillusioned with the General.
When Alexei arrives, the General and the Marquis try to enlist his help in stopping Grandma from ruining them all. Prince Nilsky, who has been showing interest in Blanche, enters the salon and mentions that the old lady’s losses have increased; this causes the General to collapse, momentarily stunned, before running into the casino. Blanche leaves with Nilsky. Alexei ponders the fate overtaking his erstwhile employer’s family: his love for Pauline is the only thing that still connects him to them. Pauline appears, but his words to her are constrained, and the two are soon interrupted by Grandma, who is brought in looking tired. Having spent all the money she brought, she now wants to return to Moscow and has asked Astley to lend her enough for the train fare. When she invites Pauline to accompany her, the girl says she cannot leave just yet. As Grandma is carried off, the General comes back from the casino, fulminating that he has been disgraced by her losses and has lost Blanche to Nilsky.
In his room at the hotel, Alexei finds Pauline waiting to show him a letter from the Marquis. As Alexei reads it, he realizes that the Marquis, pressured by loans he has made to the General, is trying to get Pauline to pay her debts to him by suggesting that if he were forced to sue, her own inheritance would be in jeopardy. Flattered that Pauline has turned to him for help, Alexei runs from the room like a madman.
In the gambling hall, Alexei joins a group of seasoned gamblers who discuss his every play as he wins repeatedly, finally quitting at 200,000. This breaks the bank, and the tables are closed for the evening. After an entr’acte, the other patrons are still discussing his phenomenal luck. Gathering his winnings, Alexei returns to his room, where in a daze he imagines the voices of the croupiers and the comments of his fellow gamblers. In due time he realizes Pauline is there, waiting for him, and he offers her the 50,000 she needs to repay the Marquis. She refuses and asks whether he really loves her. For a moment it appears he is responding: they will go away together. Then, turning harsh again, Pauline demands the money, saying her love is just a commodity. When Alexei hands it to her, she throws it in his face and runs out. Alexei is left alone, dementedly recalling how he won twenty times in a row.
Pauline - (soprano) The General's ward. She is in love with the tutor, Alexei, and owes sizable gambling debts to the Marquis. She gives her jewelry to Alexei to pawn so that he can win money to repay her debts.
Alexei - (tenor) Tutor for the General's children. He is in love with Pauline, and his willingness to do anything for her brings the threat of scandal on the General's family. Like the other characters in the story, he is a somewhat reckless gambler.
The General - (bass) Pauline's legal guardian, the General is a middle-aged man enamoured of the young opportunist Blanche. The General is very concerned that scandal and his own debts might prevent him from winning Blanche.
Blanche - (alto) A young lady of the demi-monde, Blanche at first seems interested in the General, but is then wooed away by Prince Nilsky.
Grandma - (mezzo-soprano) Pauline's grandma from Moscow, and also the General's rich aunt. The family members are all waiting for her to die so that they can gamble with their inheritance. Although she is reported to be ill, she joins them at the spa in perfect health and ready to gamble.
The Marquis - (tenor) An insidious and dishonest man, the Marquis has made loans to both Pauline and the General and is pressuring them to repay him.
Schedule for Sergei Prokofiev "The Gambler" (Opera in Four Acts) 2017