The Kirov's welcome guest season at the Met features an enterprising series of neglected work. The good thing about their Betrothal in a Monastery is that it led to a recording for Philips, already released in the US and extremely enjoyable.
Gergiev has a great track record of finding and nurturing new vocal talent. Several stars shine brightly here, foremost among them the soprano Anna Netrebeko. Her lustrous, richly coloured voice marks her out at once. Larissa Diadkova makes much, almost too much, of the title role and is ably complemented by another glorious Russian mezzo, Marianna Tarossova. Among the men Vassily Gerello wielded an impressive baritone voice but he was limited to hand-on-sword hilt posturing. Vladislav Pazi's production was cliche-ridden, inept and full of repellent simpering and flouncing. Twirling extras, dressed in kitsch, lurex-rich designs by Alla Kozhenkova abused the name of Commedia dell'Arte. This production reeked of provincialism and did Prokoviev a major disservice.
Listening to the recording makes you long to see a sympathetically choreographed production. The best that can be said is that the case for Betrothal in a Monastery has yet to be made on stage.
Further performances until 9May at New York Met.