Classical CD review: Prokofiev’s ‘The Gambler’

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Prokofiev’s famous ballets — “The Prodigal Son,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Cinderella” — are tuneful affairs. His early operas are another matter. “The Love for Three Oranges” is by no means as melodic as its popular march suggests. “The Gambler,” which adapts the Dostoevsky novella, is more of a music drama than an opera. But what drama! Its terse, explosive final confrontation between Alexei and Polina actually improves on Dostoevsky’s original. And this new DVD filmed in 2010 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg is a shattering viewing and listening experience.

“The Gambler” is set in the mythical European spa town of Roulettenburg. Looking a little like the Orson Welles of “The Third Man” in his overcoat and fedora, Vladimir Galuzin is a callow, disrespectful Alexei.

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