Opera Scotland

Betrothal in a Monastery (Duenna) Obrucheniye v Monastire

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Sergey Prokofiev (born Sontsovka, Ukraine, 23 April 1891; died Moscow, 5 March 1953)

The composer and Mira Mendelson.

The Duenna (1775), operatic text by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816).

First performance: Prague (National Theatre), 5 May 1946.
First UK performance: London (Collegiate Theatre), 15 February 1980.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Playhouse Theatre), 14 August 1990.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Sheridan’s original work was produced for an opera with music compiled and arranged by the Thomas Linleys, father and son (his father- and brother-in-law), and its first, hugely successful, production was at Covent Garden. Prokofiev’s opera is a delightful romantic comedy with farcical activities involving multiple disguises and mistaken identities. The music is full of pointed melody and witty effects, similar to the ballet Cinderella, composed not long before. The Bolshoi gave the Scottish premiere the week after their mould-breaking visit to Glasgow during its cultural festivities, when they had performed equally rare Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. They returned to Edinburgh the following year, amid the turbulence of political upheavals in Moscow, and their conductor, Alexander Lazarev then began his fruitful and long-lasting association with the RSNO.

Main Characters
Don Jerome, a nobleman of Seville (tenor)
Ferdinand, his son (baritone)
Louisa, his daughter (soprano)
Duenna to Louisa (mezzo-soprano)
Antonio, Louisa’s suitor (tenor)
Clara, Louisa’s friend (mezzo-soprano)
Mendoza, a rich fish merchant (bass)
Don Carlos, an impoverished nobleman and friend of Don Jerome (baritone)

Plot Summary
Don Jerome arranges for his daughter to marry Mendoza. Louisa’s duenna wishes to help her marry the impoverished Antonio, but also has her eyes on Mendoza as a prize for herself. She and Louisa engineer the duenna’s dismissal, but swap clothes thus allowing Louisa to escape and the duenna to be courted by Mendoza in her stead. Louisa’s friend Clara, loved by her brother Ferdinand, decides to take temporary shelter in a convent. Louisa is thus able to adopt a further disguise as Clara, and enlists Mendoza’s help in her pursuit of Antonio. Ferdinand fights Antonio under the mistaken impression that he has been courting Clara rather than Louisa. The drink-fuelled revelry of the monks is interrupted by their requirement to perform three marriages. This done, a ball is hosted by Jerome to celebrate the marriage of Louisa to Mendoza, and it is only now that he discovers the true facts. That Louisa has married a pauper is compensated for by the fact that Ferdinand has married Clara, a wealthy heiress. Mendoza seems happy with his duenna.

The Cast

 Louisa's suitor
First Masker
First Servant
 Louisa's maid
 Clara's maid
Second Masker
Second Servant
Third Masker
Brother Benedictine
 a monk
Brother Chartreuse
 a monk
Brother Elixir
 a monk
 Louisa's friend
Don Carlos
 a friend of Don Jerome
Don Jerome
 a nobleman of Seville
 to Louisa
Father Augustine
 a monk
 Don Jerome's son
First Monk
 Ferdinand's servant
 Don Jerome's daughter
 a rich fish merchant
 Mendoza's servant
 Mendoza's servant
 Mendoza's servant
Second Monk

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