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Photo: Theater Chemnitz / Dieter Wuschanski
Theater Chemnitz 2001, Sabine Sterken, dir

Prokofieff, Serge

The Duenna (Betrothal in a Monastery) (1940-41)

Duration: 156 minutes
Opera in four acts

Libretto by the composer and Mira Mendelson, after Sheridan's play (R,E)

2S,M,C(or M),C,8T,T(or Bar),5Bar,4B,silent role;chorus 2.picc.2.corA.2.bcl.2.dbn- dr/tamb/SD/ maracas/cyms/BD/tam-t-harp-strings. On-stage musicians (various scenes): gtr;cl-crt-perc(1):BD. Off-stage musicians (various scenes) : perc(1):maracas-strings(; fl.asax-strings(; 2cl- glasses This work is represented by Boosey & Hawkes in the UK, British Commonwealth (excluding Canada), Republic of Ireland, mainland China, Korea and Taiwan.
Abbreviations (PDF).

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the UK, countries of the Commonwealth (excluding Canada) and the Republic of Ireland.

World Premiere
National Theatre, Prague
Company: Prague National Theatre Opera


DON JEROME, a rich man of SevilleTenor
FERDINAND, his sonBaritone
LOUISA, his daughterSoprano
ANTONIO, in love with LouisaTenor
CLARA D'ALMANZA, friend of LouisaMezzo-Soprano
MENDOZA, a rich fish merchantBass
DON CARLOS, an impoverished nobleman, friend of MendozaBaritone
FATHER AUGUSTINE, Father Superior of the monasteryBaritone
LAURETTA, Louisa's maidservantSoprano
ROSINA, Clara's maidservantContralto
LOPEZ, Ferdinand's servantTenor
Friend of Don JeromeNon-singing
Servant of Don JeromeNon-singing
Servants, Maidservants, Monks, Guests, Maskers, Tradespeople

Time and Place
Seville, 18th century


Don Jerome, a Seville nobleman, and Mendoza, a rich fish merchant, are going into business together. As part of the deal, Mendoza will marry Don Jerome's daughter. Louisa is however in love with the handsome Don Antonio. And her brother, Don Ferdinand, is wooing her best friend Clara, who is far from compliant. Louisa asks her duenna, who has designs on marrying Mendoza herself, to help and they devise a plot. They provoke Don Jerome into dismissing the duenna from his house, after she and Louisa have exchanged clothes and veils. In the street, Louisa meets Clara who is angry with Ferdinand and is planning to retreat to a monastery. She agrees to swap clothes with Louisa so she can meet Antonio. Meanwhile the duenna, dressed as Louisa, persuades Mendoza to elope as this would be more 'romantic'. Don Jerome is surprised to learn of the elopement but sends his blessing. More confusingly, Louisa herself requests a marriage blessing, which he also grants. In the monastery, Louisa pleads with Clara to accept her brother Ferdinand. Antonio appears and Louisa and he go off to get married. They are seen by Ferdinand, who imagines that Antonio is marrying Clara. His jealousy is secretly observed by the real Clara, who now accepts the extent of Ferdinand's love. After further misunderstandings in the presence of a group of drunken monks, the two young couples are properly reunited and their marriages are blessed. In Don Jerome's house, Mendoza presents himself to be married with Louisa – in truth the duenna. When the deception is revealed, he leaves in anger. Don Jerome, learning that his son will marry the enormously rich Clara, puts his business plans aside and allows Louisa to marry Antonio, even though he has no money.

Comic, Romantic

Relationships, Society, Literary

Recommended Recording
Nikolai Fassiev/Alexander Gergalov/Anna Netrebko/Larissa Diadkova/Kirov Chorus & Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
Philips 462 107 (3 CDs)

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