Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Betrothal in a Monastery



I find this completely charming.

Young people are in love, as they inevitably are, and papa is standing in the way. He wants his beautiful daughter to marry his old rich fish merchant friend. He seems to think of her as a financial investment.

Daughter Louisa and her duenna find a solution in deception. The proposed bridegroom has never met Louisa, and the duenna proposes that if Louisa does not want him, she will marry him and his ducats herself. She likes beards, and she likes money.

They all find a monastery full of drunken monks who will happily marry all three couples--Louisa and her beau, Louisa's brother and his love, and the fish merchant and duenna. Everyone lives happily ever after.

We have purchased this dvd of Prokofiev's Betrothal in a Monastery from the Kirov Opera with Valery Gergiev because Louisa is sung by Anna Netrebko, our current fascination. All of the comic singing actors are delightful, especially the duenna and her fish monger, but it is Anna we love. The role does not really show off her voice--composers in the twentieth-century don't seem to understand how to do this--but her singing and acting are utterly charming. There is simply not enough Anna to go around.

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