Based on Dostoyevsky's novel of the same name, The Gambler is a dark study of human failings and the corruptive power of money. In this work, everyone gambles: the hero Alexei, the General and even the wealthy aunt Babulen... more »ka gamble with money; Blanche, the Marquis and Polina who loves Alexei gamble with their fellow human beings. The Staatskapelle Berlin under the baton of world-famous conductor Daniel Barenboim provides the orchestral sound to the full, lustrous voices of Misha Didyk, Kristine Opolais, Vladimir Ognovenko and Stefania Toczyska.Directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov' a stroke of genius like Prokofiev's opera itself'
"Fantastic DVD of an opera that has been neglected too long. My copy DOES have subtitles, English only. They can only be turned on from the main menu -- the Subtitle button does not work. This production had initially terrible reviews when it premiered at La Scala, but in its current form at least is very convincing. Despite its Italian/German production origin, the cast is largely Slavic, including the still-wonderful Stefania Toczyska as the scene-stealing Babushka. The setting is modern, but I wouldn't even call it a re-interpretation. Freed of the distracting elements which a period costumed production is bound by, director Tcherniakob makes it easy to follow the plot points while focusing on the complicated character relationships. The singers are musically beyond fault, not to mention attractive and effective as actors. Barenboim lets the music serve the drama as the colorful and complex score unfolds, a world away from the Prokofiev of, say, Betrothal in a Monastery. Really -- don't miss it."
Barenboim conducts a spendid production
Shore DJ | Oceanport, New Jersey United States | 11/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While this isn't a title that immediately comes to mind when one thinks of Prokofiev (Lt. Kije usually comes to mind first), it's a worthwhile look and listen. A modern dress production from Berlin with Maestro Barenboim at the helm and some marvelous performances. As for the subtitle issue, well, you go in through the menu selections, and turn them on or off, whichever you fancy. Works for me on three different brands of players (RCA, Sony, and Coby). Isn't that how one normally does it? (!)
Robert G. VanStryland | Denton, TX USA | 10/31/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I just received this item and had not yet played it, so I was puzzled to read Mr. Chilson's statement that this DVD has no subtitles. The packaging and this product information page clearly state that there are English subtitles, and there is a menu option on the disc to turn the subtitles on or off. So I quickly unwrapped my copy to check. I played the disc with the subtitles turned "on" (from the menu) and saw no subtitles! I tried the "Subtitles" option while the DVD was playing and my screen read "operation prohibited by disc." Either there is a manufacturing defect or someone decided at the last minute to disable the subtitles option. Either way, I suggest that anyone who is not fluent in Russian should postpone buying this DVD until someone reissues it in a corrected version. I find it amazing that Kultur should have been so careless. P.S. When I saw the review by "Seattle," whose copy has subtitles, I tried my copy on another player (newer than mine) and was able to get the English subtitles by turning them on from the menu. Apparently subtitle function on this DVD depends on what player you use. I still think Kultur made a careless mistake."
Alert - False advertising - NO SUBTITLES
Richard | Minneapolis, Mongolia | 10/30/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It is bad enough when a company fails to include subtitles for a known opera. But few of us are all that familiar with the Gambler to be able to stumble our way through it without subtitles. Plus good luck finding a libretto for it short of buying a CD version - the Kirov production. Then you get a great performance by without the visuals. And the Gambler is an opera that demands visuals. I have listened to the CDs a number of times but just couldn't get it. How it looks provides a necessary step in getting to know it. But it gets worse.You would be hard pressed to find a memorable melody anywhere here. And Prokofiev is one of the supreme melodists later on - think Romeo or War and Peace. The Gambler is pure music drama where the music serves the words. Without the meaning of the words one is quite at a loss. So first of all deduct two stars for stupidity. Unless you know Russian or have a libretto avoid this purchase unless like me you have a real love of early Prokofiev. It is a challenge to watch this even with a libretto. The story moves at a feverish clip and gazing from libretto to screen is tyring. The production is typically Euro trash although not severe enough to spoil the performance. Until the last scene where we switch to the gambling room the action all takes place in what could be an airport waiting room or the ante chamber to a restaurant. I guess it could also count as the sitting room at a casino. At a number of points we have people sitting behind the singers and doing whatever. Obviously it is a distraction and thank goodness the director seems to lose interest after a while and the people as furniture move more into the background. The reason I give this two stars is the performance. The cast is filled with good singing actors or in this case more acting singers. The Gambler, true to its subject, is propelled by addiction throughout. Prokofiev has never been this neurotic before or since. The score almost never lets up. The excitement and terror of gambling are wonderfully put forth by the composer. If it had subtitles it would definitely deserve 4 stars. As it is: buyer beware."
G. Stefan Lazar | San Francisco, CA USA | 11/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let me say right off, the subtitles were fine. There may be problems with some copies but certainly not mine. This is not an easy go but the acting singers do a wonderful job on what can be a very difficult score. Frankly, I liked this stark looking production a great deal. It isn't pretty but does it need to be? It keeps the focus on the drama and that's exactly where it should be. As for memorable melodies, there aren't any and I wouldn't expect there to be. This isn't Verdi or Puccini. Personally, I dislike the way the term Euro trash is thrown around. Just because a production is viewed from a different perspective does not mean its trash!"