The Gambler (Russian: Игрок — Igrok in transliteration) 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.Is it love or compulsive gambling, greed for money or lust after power? There is probably not a single character in Prokofiev’s opera that one can have confidence in.
Prokofiev developed a personality profile of a compulsive gambler by composing sketches of musical characters. Within those sketches most of the singers’ parts rest in a declamatory attitude. Thus, “The Gambler” is kind of an “anti-opera” – a piece of music theatre that sets itself apart from the usual operatic forms by passing on arias.
In order to characterise the figures, Prokofiev uses elements that come close to leitmotifs. In this manner a broader musical context seems to act counterbalancing the unbowed high scenic speed of the dialogues.
This production from the Staatsoper unter den Linden Berlin is staged by Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov (who also created a marvellous Chowanshtshina
.) Daniel Barenboim conducts the Staatsopernchor and the Staatskapelle Berlin.