Director Dmitri Tcherniakov sets this opera in a hotel lobby although it looks more like a dentist's waiting room. All it needs is a flat-screen TV on the wall showing daytime television with the sound turned down. As far as I can see, Prokofiev never really comes to grips with Dostoyevsky's allegedly comic novel. It is unclear what all the characters are doing in the lobby and what their relationship is to each other. They are all well-dressed except the hero Alexy who wears an anorak and trainers. I discovered from the synopsis that he is the General's family tutor but I don't remember that information being conveyed in the opera itself.
The sound palette is recognizably Prokofiev. I kept on hearing bits that sounded similar to his symphonies and film scores. In fact, the overall impression is of a libretto set to film background music. I was so bored by all this that I stopped concentrating on what the principals were singing about and started to try to lip-read the extras sitting around the lobby, smoking and drinking. They seemed to be having a more interesting time.
The plot is tedious. I don't know if Prokofiev or Dostoyevsky is to blame for that. I hate stories where the hero wins at roulette 20 times in a row just for the convenience of the drama. The only amusing moment is when the General's granny, Babulenka turns up and proceeds to lose all the family's money on the roulette table. She tells him: "I'm still quite rich...I have three villages and two houses".
I will not mention any of the performers. I fear that they have suffered enough. On this evidence The Gambler is a justly neglected opera. I cannot recommend it. The Berlin audience apparently loved it.