A biography of Prokofiev suggested that this was his best stage work, while other reviews I'd heard of the opera were largely positive but not superlative. Now that I have it, I have to go with the superlative. This is one of the greatest comic operas I've ever heard, and gives all the others a run for their money. The music is truly brilliantly comic; only R. Strauss and sometimes Haydn can, in my experience, equal this for music that is both well composed and laugh-producing without visual accompaniment. The opera and its music are well structured, melodic as well as funny, and fit the drama's situations to a tee. The loopy music Don Jerome intends for his party has to be heard to be believed. As a composition the opera may lose some of its steam toward the end, but it has plenty of steam left to make the end very enjoyable.
As to this recording, the singers are a bit recessed and can probably be bettered for beauty of sound -- I'm unfamiliar with the Gergiev recording-- but the cast is solid and the vocal acting excellent. The women generally do have fine voices, the men less so (particularly Vsevolod Grivnov, the young hero). The conducting of Vladimir Jurowski is extremely lively and engaging (and funny); I don't see how it could be bettered, by Gergiev or anyone else. (And his name is on both the front and back of the album, as well as inside; I don't understand what the other reviewer was fussing about.) The sound of the recording itself is fine, for compact disks. All in all, a wonderful investment for anyone who loves opera, comedy, and/or Prokofiev.