Sergei Prokofiev’s “Betrothal in a Monastery” to be staged in Berlin

“Betrothal in a Monastery”, a lyrical comedic opera in four acts (nine scenes), was written by Sergey Prokofiev during the War in 1940. Working at the peak of his fame, Prokofiev based the opera on “Duenna” by Richard Sheridan. The libretto was written by Prokofiev and Mira Mendelssohn.
This unusual work is to receive its premiere in Russian on 13 April 2019 in Berlin’s Staatsoper. The musical director is none other than Daniel Barenboim, with Dmitri Cherniakov billed as director.


The Staatsoper Berlin has published the following commentary about this work:


“The world of opera offers many things: beautiful melodies that form arias, complex ensemble compositions in which the characters express their thoughts and feelings both in their own right and in reference to one another, large choirs that give a festive or ceremonial effect as well as introductory instrumental compositions in the style of intermezzi. Yet opera is also a world of people and situations, as in Prokofiev’s “Betrothal in a Monastery”.
Plot summary:
The rich old fish merchant Mendoza wants to conclude some lucrative business with Don Jeronimo. But he also wants to marry Luisa, Don Jeronimo’s daughter. Although her father acquiesces, Lusia is in love with the poor Don Antonio, while her brother has fallen for the beautiful Clara.  Luisa’s nurse, Duenna, has taken a fancy to the fish merchant and comes up with a plan to foil Don Jeronimo’s plans. Luisa disguises herself as her nurse and is subsequently chased out of the house by her father. Dressed as Luisa, the real Duenna asks Mendoza to kidnap and marry her. On her way to Don Anotonio, Luisa meets her friend Clara, who, resentful of her beloved Ferdinand, resolves to enter a monastery. Antonio and Luisa intend to get married, as does Mendoza with the “other” Luisa. Luisa and Mendoza ask Don Jeronimo for his permission to marry. He gives his blessing without knowing what’s really going on. The marriage is to take place in the monastery. There, Ferdinand meets Clara, who resolve their differences. The merry monks announce their willingness to marry the three couples: Mendoza and Duenna, Antonio and Luisa, and Ferdinand and Clara. When Don Jeronimo notices the subterfuge it’s already too late and he is forced to put a brave face on things.

13/04/2019
Staatsoper Berlin
Premiere Sergei Prokofiev,
Lyrical comedic opera “Betrothal in a Monastery” (performed in Russian)   
(Dmitri Cherniakov, Director
Musical Director: Daniel Barenboim)

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