This 1998 production of Prokofieff's 'opera buffa' is the latest issue in the series of Russian operatic masterpieces from the Kirov forces and the incomparable Valery Gergiev. Set in 18th-century Seville after R.B. Sheridan's play, 'The Duenna', the work embraces many comic situations and a considerable variety of characters. Disguised lovers, a despotic father thwarted, a rich suitor left in the cold, servants and monks behaving badly; all get a chance to make their bow. In the end, young love triumphs over all adversity. This is a very impressive DVD which is a feast for both the eyes and ears. Stage décor is simple, yet visually commanding and the costumes are some of the most gorgeous I have ever seen of late.
Prokofiev's score, composed in 1940 is full of humour and wit and the orchestral and vocal parts are a strong testimony to his genius. Diadkova and Aleksashkin in the roles of the Duenna and Aleksashkin respectively give delightful performances that one cannot fail to warm to, and although Anna Netrebko's outstanding singing and facial beauty cannot escape attention, it is these two characters that leave a lasting mark on the viewer. The rest of the cast contribute commendably to the success of this performance, ably directed by Vladislav Pazi and conducted withpace and vigour by Gergiev who once again, comes up trumps in what is definitely his favourite repertoire. An enthralling presentation which should be on everyone's shelf without further delay.
Copyright © 2006, Gerald Fenech