Betrothal in a Monastery
Betrothal in a Monastery (original Russian title Обручение в монастыре), Op. 86 is an opera by Sergei Prokofiev, his sixth with an opus number. The libretto, in Russian, was by the composer and Mira Mendelson (his companion in later life), after Richard Brinsley Sheridan's ballad opera libretto for Thomas Linley the younger's The Duenna.
Prokofiev began the work in 1940, and it was in rehearsal that year, but World War II halted production of the opera. The first performance did not occur until 3 November 1946 at the Kirov Theatre with Boris Khaikin conducting.
Commentators have noted that, given the context of its creation in the 1940s in the Soviet Union, this opera lacks any particular political or social comment, except perhaps for a scene involving drunken monks.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast
3 November 1946, Leningrad
(Conductor: Boris Khaikin)
|Don Ferdinand, son of Don Jerome||baritone|
|Louisa, daughter of Don Jerome||soprano|
|Mendoza, a fish merchant||bass|
|Don Carlos, friend of Mendoza||baritone|
|Two Lay Brothers|
Don Jerome intends his daughter Louisa to marry the wealthy fish merchant Mendoza. However, she loves instead Antonio, who is poor, though noble in spirit. Furthermore, Don Ferdinand, son of Don Jerome and prone to fits of jealousy, wants to marry Clara d'Almanza, who is a virtual prisoner of her stepmother.
Louisa's Duenna suggests that she and Louisa exhange clothes - the Duenna will then marry Mendoza and Louisa can elope with Antonio. Louisa finds her friend Clara hiding in a monastery from the ardour of her lover Ferdinand (Louisa's brother). Disguising herself now as Clara, she takes Mendoza to the house of Don Jerome to meet 'Louisa' (the Duenna in disguise); they agree to elope.
Mendoza and Don Carlos unintentionally help Louisa elope with Antonio. Don Jerome is tricked into composing a letter that gives his permission for Louisa to marry Antonio. In a fit of jealousy, Don Ferdinand chases after Louisa and Antonio, after he mistakes Louisa for Clara.
The act opens with a drinking song for the monks in the monastery where the marriages are to be performed. The monks then switch to a hymn that extols fasting and abstinence, to a tune that is a slower variant of the earlier drinking song. Finally, Louisa and Antonio are united, as are Don Ferdinand and Clara. In addition, Mendoza ends up marrying Louisa's Duenna.
- Kirov Orchestra and Kirov Opera. With Evgeny Akimov, Marianna Tarassova, Anna Netrebko, Alexandr Gergalov, Nikolai Gassiev, Larissa Diadkova, Sergey Aleksashkin, Yury Shkliar. Chorus cond. Valery Gergiev (Philips, 1998)
- Orchestra and chorus of the Bolshoi Theatre cond. Alexander Lazarev, (BMG Classics, 1990)
Summer Night (Op. 123) is an orchestral suite with music drawn from Betrothal in a Monastery.
The suite, lasting around 20 minutes, consists of five movements:
- Introduction: Moderato, ma con brio
- Serenade: Adagio
- Dreams (Nocturne): Andante tranquillo
- Dance: Allegretto
Recent recordings include:
- Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Leonid Grin (Ondine, 1991)
- London Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Vladimir Jurowski (Glyndebourne CD Label, 2008)
- Russian National Orchestra conductor Mikhail Pletnev (Deutsche Grammophon, 1994)
- St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy (Exton, 2002)
- Slonimsky, Nicolas, "The Duenna. A Lyric-Comic Opera in Four Acts, Nine Scenes" (June 1955). Notes (2nd Ser.), 12 (3): 484-485.
- Law, Joe K. (2000). "Betrothal in a Monastery. Sergei Prokofiev". Opera Quarterly 16 (2): 319–322. doi:10.1093/oq/16.2.319. Retrieved 2007-08-12.
- Tom Service (2006-07-25). "Betrothal in a Monastery/Glyndebourne". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-12.
- Recordings of Betrothal in a Monastery on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
- Betrothal in a Monastery at prokofiev.org
- Summer Night at prokofiev.org
- Synopsis from the Mariinsky Theatre.