S. Prokofiev - The Gambler
The Gambler is an opera in four acts composed by Prokofiev based on the novel of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The opera was completed in 1917 but did not receive its first performance until 1929 in Brussels. Set in a fictional spa town in Germany, the opera tells a complicated story of greed, obsessions, euphoric wins, and devastating losses at the casino.
In 1931, Prokofiev produced an orchestral suite - Four Portraits and a Dénouement from The Gambler, op. 49 based on the material from this opera.
P. I. Tchaikovsky - Queen of Spades, Op.68
The Queen of Spades in an opera in three acts which tells a tragic story about obsession to a secret winning formula in card games. Tchaikovsky accepted the commission to this opera in 1889 and the world premiere at St. Petersburg in 1890 was a great success. The story is an altered plot of Alexander Pushkin's original short story of the same name. Tchaikovsky worked together with his brother, Modest Tchaikovsky to produce the libretto.
This opera is considered as one of Tchaikovsky's most ambitious and impressive works.
D. Shostakovich - The Gamblers, Op.63
The Gamblers by Shostakovich is an incomplete opera with only one surviving act. The story was based on a play by Nikolai Gogol. Shostakovich abandoned the work as he finds it too long because the libretto was a word-for word copy of the play. Krzysztof Meyer, a polish composer, later completed the opera using his own music for the rest of the text. The Gamblers is a story about card-sharps trying to beat each other in cheating. The action is set in a room in a small Russian town.
Shostakovich later used the material from this opera in his Sonata for Viola and Piano, op.147.
I. Stravinsky - Jeu de Cartes
Jeu de Cartes, also known as Card Game, is a ballet by Stravinsky. Composed in 1937, this ballet was premiered by American Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York with the composer conducting the orchestra. It was commissioned and choreographed by George Balachine.
This work is an example of Stravinsky’s Neoclassicism, a movement which seeks to return to the aesthetics of the 18th century that emphasizes clarity and balance, and also as a reaction against the music of late Romanticism.
The three scenes in the ballet are referred to as three “deals” by the composer. The setting of the story is based on poker games and the cards are the main characters (i.e. Joker, Queen, and Ace).
W. Bolcom - Casino Paradise
Casino Paradise is a musical theater composed by William Bolcom with the lyrics by Arnold Weinstein. It was premiered at the Philadelphia’s American Music Theater Festival in 1990.
The two-act opera tells a dark comedy about the conflicts, relationships, and encounters of a casino tycoon and his son. Bolcom’s musical style in this work was wide ranging, incorporating jazz, rag, blues and other dance genres. Weinstein’s lyrics on the other hand, were witty and entertaining.
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