Summary Sergey Sergeevich Prokofiev. Duenya (Betrothal in a Monastery)


Lyrical comic opera in four acts (nine scenes)

Libretto by S. Prokofiev


Don Jerome, a nobleman of Seville





His children



Duenna at Louise


Clara, Louise’s girlfriend

Mendoza, a wealthy fishmonger

Don Carlos, an impoverished nobleman,

Mendoza’s friend

Father Augustine, rector




Mezzo soprano




Father Elustaf

Father Chartreux

Father Benedictine


The monks






2nd novice

Lauretta, Louise’s maid

Rosina, Clara’s maid

Lopets, servant of Ferdinand

Friend of Don Jérôme

Sam, the servant of Don Jérôme




Contralto or mezzo


Without words, playing

On the cornet-a-piston

Without words, playing

On a big drum

Servants, servants, monks, nuns, guests, masks, merchants.

The action takes place in Seville in the XVIII century.


Opera Prokofiev was created based on the play “Duenya” by RB Sheridan (1751-1816). In addition to the accuracy of witty comedy sketches, the statement of light feelings of young lovers occupies a large place.

The composer significantly strengthened the lyrical content of the play. Imagination of the composer drew a poetic background for the development of love intrigue: a night carnival, the embankment of Seville, an abandoned convent.


expanded the expressive possibilities of the comedy, gave it a life full-bloodedness.

Prokofiev created a libretto on the basis of an English script, performing simultaneously the role of an interpreter; M. Mendelson wrote poetic texts. In December 1940 the opera was completed. Next spring, the Theater. KS Stanislavsky in Moscow intended to implement his production. The terrible events of the Great Patriotic War prevented this. Other subjects, other images worried Soviet people, and even Prokofiev himself switched to the creation of the heroic and patriotic opera War and Peace. Only November 3, 1946, “Duenna” was staged on the stage of the Leningrad Opera and Ballet Theater. S. M. Kirov.


The square in front of the house of don Jérôme. A clever fisherman of Mendoza promises a venerable nobleman huge profits in joint trade. The transaction will be sealed by the hand of the daughter of Jerome – Louise, who will become the wife of Mendoza, Jerome describes with delight the beauty of his daughter. But Mendoza equally eloquently talks about the merits of the various fish demonstrated by his servants. Old men are replaced by young people. The son of Jerome, the ardent Ferdinand, dreams of the beautiful and wayward Clara d’Almanz. Twilight led Antonio under the window of his beloved Louise. The meeting of the lovers interrupts the voice of the angry Jerome. Concerned Jerome seems that there is no worse terror than the care of an adult daughter. He decides to immediately marry Louise to Mendoza. The lights go out in the streets. Seville is plunged into a dream.

Louise dreams of happiness with Antonio. The groom, chosen by the father, inspires her with a feeling of disgust. But the stubborn old man vowed not to let his daughter out of the house until she fulfilled his will. In vain Ferdinand tries to protect his sister, Jerome is difficult to convince. To help comes Duenna. Having agreed with the pupil, she plays a secret transmission of a love message from Antonio. Jerome intercepts the letter and, in an angry vehemence, orders the nanny to leave the house. This is what the women’s plan was built in: Dueni’s dress slips away from Father Louise.

On the seafront of Seville briskly sell fish. Mendoza is pleased – things are going well. Carlos does not share the enthusiasm of a friend. He dreams of things worthy of a knight: precious stones, weapons, gold.

Charming runaways, Louise and Clara d’Almanza, who also left her home, but from the evil stepmother, are developing a plan for further action. Clara got angry at Ferdinand and expects to find a shelter in the monastery of St. Catherine. And Louise, after naming herself as a friend, asks Mendoza who came up to find Antonio. The request of a pretty girl to Mendoza’s heart: he believes that he will be able to distract the young man’s attention from the daughter of Don Jérôme.

With trembling, Mendoza expects a date with the bride. Jérôme’s story about the beauty of his daughter strengthens the impatience of the fish merchant. But Louise for some reason is capricious and does not want to meet the bridegroom in the presence of her father, Jerome is forced to retire. Enter Duenna, disguised as Louise. Mendoza, stuttering with excitement, asks the beautiful woman to throw away the veil and… is deprived of the gift of speech: it is so terrible and old the bride! Immediately dexterous Duenna goes on the offensive: she admires the beard of Mendoza, his manly appearance. Flattery fascinates the groom, he is ready to ask for the blessing of Jerome. But Duenna further weaves her ingenious intrigues: Mendoza must steal her from her parents’ house. He agrees on everything. Surrendering to romantic dreams, he does not even notice the return of Jerome, congratulating him on his victory.

Slowly, the hours for Louise awaiting Antonio. But Mendoza introduces her lover. The joy of young people is boundless. Deceived Mendoza is also pleased, thinking that he got rid of the opponent. He enthusiastically tells new friends about his bride and the impending abduction. Louise and Antonio slyly assented to him. Their hearts are full of love, they are happy to have found each other.

Don Jérôme plays with enthusiasm, playing with a love minuet with friends. But the game is not going well. Jerome can not understand why the daughter secretly fled with the man intended for her husband. Carlos brings a letter from Mendoza with a request to forgive and bless him. A message with a similar request is brought by a grimy boy from Louise. Jerome is surprised by the eccentricity of his daughter – why not write them together? – and blesses both, ordering a wedding dinner in honor of the newlyweds.

In the old abandoned garden of the convent, Clara wanders alone: ​​Is she really destined to remain among the nuns? Ferdinand runs in with a naked sword. Mendoza told him about the betrayal of his beloved, and he decided to take revenge on Antonio. Blinded by jealousy, Ferdinand does not recognize Clara, who appeared before him in a monastic robe. And Clara finally believed in the sincerity of Ferdinand’s feelings and after him left the humble abode, wanting to connect his fate with his beloved.

In a drunken raging life passes in the monastery. The sudden appearance of clients makes the monks turn to the singing of pious psalms: this Antonio and Mendoza came with a request to marry them with their beloved. The sound of coins from the purse dropped by the applicants had a magical effect: the abbot agrees to hold a wedding ceremony.

To the festively illuminated home of Jerome come guests. And the owner is not up to them: there are no young people, and Ferdinand has disappeared somewhere. But here comes the happy Mendoza. His wife rapts enthusiastically around the neck of “daddy” – and Jerome with horror recognizes in her Duen. Luisa and Antonio were not slow to appear, instead of explaining the letter to their father with the consent to marriage. Before Jerome could recover from astonishment, Ferdinand and the nun fell to his knees before him. My father was completely at a loss, but suddenly he recognized Clara d’Almanza, one of the richest girls in Seville, as a friend of his son. After suffering a loss on his daughter’s marriage, he compensates for his son’s marriage. And Mindoza’s fooled man should be taken out with the nurse away. With a light heart, the cheerful owner opens a wedding feast.


In the Duenna, the comic and lyrical principles coexist on an equal footing. Opera music sparkles with humor, fascinates with its melodic beauty. With an inexhaustible imagination, easily and naturally, the composer follows a lively, full of amusing surprises with the development of intrigue, with genuine sympathy depicting lyrical heroes.

Orchestral entry carries a cheerful fun.

Lively music accompanied by the release of Jerome. Mendoza quickly patronizes him in his plans. Then they together sing a fervent song about the fish, accompanied by which as if a splash of water is reproduced. In arioso “Ah, how you look” Jerome paints the beauty of his daughter; The same music sounds in the arioso of Mendoza, praising his goods. Pathetics imbued with the recognition of Ferdinand “Ah, Clara, Clara dear”; light and poetic Serenade Antonio, performed to the accompaniment of the guitar. In Jerome’s aria, “If you have a daughter,” the old man’s complaints are morbidly parodied to his restless life. Dances of masks are diverse: an easy moving pass, full of passionate bliss orientalism (oriental dance), a delightful bolero. A whimsical and changeable theme that accompanies the thinning groups of participants in the carnival. Three cellos behind the scenes imitate the playing of an ensemble of stray musicians; they are answered by violins, repeating the merry and fervent chorus of the song about the fish. Gradually, music stops, in the mesmerized silence of the night, the last sounds slowly fade.

The graceful whimsical melody of the flute accompanies the merry tricks of Louise at the beginning of the second picture (the second act). Dialogue duo “Of course, of course, Antonio is not Croesus” is based on contrasting the inspired dreams of Louise and the calculated intentions of Duen. The comical episodes of Jerome’s quarrel with the children and his quarrel with Duenya are full.

The third picture is opened by a discordant chorus of a fishmonger. The confusion and confusion of Louise and Clara are conveyed in a brief duet, “You ran.” A poetic arietta in the rhythm of a slow waltz reveals Clara’s feelings for Ferdinand. The dialogue of the girls “If I knew,” gives the immediacy a hint of merry mischief. The boastful self-righteousness of the fish merchant is vividly embodied in his recitative phrase “Mendoza sly boy”. The knightly warehouse of Carlos’s soul is given in the romance “No Greater Happiness”, sustained in the spirit of an ancient madrigal.

In the fourth – the picture of ariozo Jérôme about the daughters of the daughter, precedes the scene of the meeting between Mendoza and Duen. Flattery insinuating speech of the imaginary Louise is fixed in her arioso “Signor, what surprise”. Sultry Spanish-Gypsy coloring marked a song “When it’s around the green girl.” The duet “Tonight” carries with a swift tempo.

The poetic music of the introduction to the fifth painting (the third act) draws a quiet evening. A thoughtful and gentle arioso of Louise, whose thoughts are directed towards Antonio. The central episode forms the scene of their meeting: in the orchestra the inspired theme of serenade Antonio (from the first act) sounds. Quartet “How light is on the soul” (Mendoza and Carlos join the lovers) is a perfect example of Prokofiev’s lyrical ensemble.

With an inimitable humor, the scene of playing music at home with Jerome in the sixth painting is depicted.

In the seventh painting, the captivating serenade (duet of Louise and Antonio) is replaced by Clara’s heartfelt dream scene.

The eighth picture (the fourth act) contains a biting satire exposing the hypocritical hypocrisy of monks. The drinking choral song “Bottle is the sun of our life” vividly depicts the drunken servants of the monastery, their idle pastime; especially impressive defiantly-distant chorus “Believe, the world is gay!”.

In the introduction to the ninth picture, the theme of Jérôme’s aria “If you have a daughter” is confused and perplexed in the orchestra. The appearance of happy pairs of newlyweds is accompanied by music, borrowed from previous acts. The welcoming chorus of guests sounds cheerfully and joyfully. At the end, Jerome, amused, plays the couplets “I understand the young”, accompanying myself on the ringing, sounding like crystal bells, glasses.

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Summary Sergey Sergeevich Prokofiev. Duenya (Betrothal in a Monastery)