Wednesday, 22 February 2012

tcherniakov the gambler dvd

The Gambler. DVD. Berlin State Opera 2008. Prod: Dmitri Tcherniakov. Conductor: Daniel Barenboim. Cast: Kristine Opolais (Polina), Misha Didyk (Aleksay), Vladimir Ognovenko (General), Stefania Toczyska (Babulenka)

Dostoyevski´s dark tale of the corruptive power of money set to music by Prokofiev has received a close-to-ideal presentation by this production by Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov. A co-production between the Berlin State Opera and La Scala, I remember it received rave reviews after the Berlin premiere, but disastrous reviews in Milan half a year later - with Daniel Barenboim as well and for the exact same team of singers. Which, of course, just testifies to the well-known differences of the audiences for the two houses.

The opera may not be mainstream and the plot somewhat confusing, but Dmitri Tcherniakovs staging of Prokofiev´s opera The Gambler is one of the best DVDs out there. I attended one of the performances in Berlin in 2008 and my impression holds after seeing the DVD: It´s a both exciting and moving production of outstanding musical quality.

The whole affair takes place in a hotel lobby cum gambling hall, which suits the story-line well. However, what really lifts the production is the outstanding personenregie, one of Dmitri Tcherniakov´s trademarks. It is simply entertaining throughout with myriads of small details. All singers are committed to their roles and turn in performances worthy of stage actors, without compromising on vocal quality. All accompanied by a wonderfully dense reading from Daniel Barenboim, this is highly recommended.

Duet Act 1 Kristine Opolais, Misha Didyk:

The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):

Kristine Opolais: 4-5
Misha Didyk: 4
Vladmir Ognovenko: 4
Stefania Toczyska: 4

Dmitri Tcherniakovs production: 5
Daniel Barenboim: 5

Overall impression: 5

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that the North American release of this DVD (on Kultur) is a train wreck. The subtitles don't work properly and the sound is woeful Dolby 2.0

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