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Bolshoy Theatre, Moscow Conductor: Sergei Rachmaninoff Company: Bolshoy Opera
Time and Place
England in Medieval times
A young knight Albert lives a life of jousting and courtly pleasure, which his father, an extremely rich but miserly baron, refuses to support. As a result Albert is now deeply in debt and unable to appear in high society, so he tries to borrow money once again. The money-lender refuses to provide a loan, but offers poison by means of which Albert can kill his father. Sending the money-lender away in horror at the idea, he decides to appeal to the duke who rules them all. Meanwhile the baron visits his cellars alone to celebrate the fact that he has now amassed enough gold to fill his sixth and last chest. Filled with greedy delight and terror, he lights candles before the chests and opens them to gloat on what they hold. In a powerful monologue, he fluctuates between ecstasy at the sight of all this twinkling gold and despair that he might soon die and then his son would be able to claim it all and spend it. In despair, Albert asks the duke to help. The duke conceals Albert in a nearby room and summons the baron to persuade him to support his son. Cross-questioned by the duke, the baron tries to protect his fortune and accuses his own son of wanting to steal from him. Outraged, Albert leaps from his hiding-place and accuses his own father of lying. The baron challenges his son to a duel, which Albert accepts, provoking the duke to expel him from his court. The strain is too much for the baron’s heart. He dies, calling not for his son, but for the keys to his beloved chests of gold.