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Prokofiev's Sixth Opera

About twenty years ago...

One of the roles I performed in my early years with the theater was that of the Duenna in Sergei Prokofiev’s sixth opera, Betrothal in a Monastery. Prokofiev began composing the music in 1940, but the war caused his work to be delayed. He returned to working on the music in 1943 while living in Almaty, Kazakhstan. It wasn’t until November of 1946 that the opera was finally produced in – then Lenningrad’s Kirov Theatre - now present-day Saint Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre.

As is often the case, the character performed by the Mezzo Soprano is successful at stealing the soon-to-be husband of – you guessed it – the Soprano, Louisa. Less common is that Duenna’s behavior results in a positive for Louisa because Louisa didn’t want to marry the wealthy albeit elder Mendoza (a bass, which is even funnier when you realize the Character is wealthy because he is a successful fish merchant). Louisa was holding out for the poor but noble Antonio (a tenor). In the end, my character marries the rich and successful Mendoza and lives happily ever after until death do they part, leaving our Mezzo with a healthy estate. The soprano Louisa weds the tenor, and everybody seems happy.

I have heard that someone has written a sequel called Betrayal in a Monastery, which begins with the tenor, Anthony, finally establishing a well-funded estate, only to be led astray from his bride, Louisa, by the evil Mezzo Soprano character, Natasha Borisovna.

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