April 5, 2008
It has been a good week for the Russians in New York. The night after Hvorostovsky’s big recital in Carnegie Hall (after which a friend said it is becoming essential to learn Russian if we’re to overhear the good gossip at the best music events), I finally made it to The Gambler at the Met last night. Going with a colleague who had already seen this very production in St. Petersburg was an advantage, since I haven’t known this opera at first hand. It’s another musical world from War and Peace, which is in a different galaxy again from Betrothal in a Monastery. Speaking as someone who first became convinced of Prokofiev’s operatic genius by seeing the sparkle of A Love for Three Oranges at the English National Opera and then at the Minnesota Opera, I was unprepared for the authentically Dostoyevskian Styx that he gave himself to in The Gambler.
There are two other performances left, including next Saturday’s broadcast. If you want a thoroughly well-performed drama (characterized by the committed and skilled presidial skills of the estimable Gergiev) with a first-rate mostly Russian cast, I recommend this highly.