Fyodor Dostoevsky’s perspective on humankind and society continues to intrigue any reader, whether specialized or from other areas of activity, due to the universality of the topics and the complexity of the characters involved. The novel entitled The Player depicts the life and specific concerns of 19th-century world society, a subject which attracted Sergey Prokofiev to compose a work with the same title, at the beginning of the 20th century. His opera is a unique work through the avant-garde musical language, the atypical construction of the discourse, the elements of style and conception of the libretto in relation to the original source. These elements generate a multiple correlation between the Dostoevskian prose, literary theory, the philosophy of language through studies and volumes of hermeneutic analysis, such as those signed by critic and semiotician Mikhail Bakhtin, on which we will focus our attention during this research. The terminology used by Bakhtin (dialogism, polyphony, ventrilogism, carnival) indicates a profound insight into the connection between Dostoevsky’s prose and the theatrical, dramatic, lyrical, musical aspects of the epic substratum in his novels. At the same time, Dostoevsky was an involuntary forerunner of the artistic movement initiated in Western Europe by German composers – Expressionism –, which also had echoes in the works of Russian composers from the first half of the last century, as we shall see in Sergey Prokofiev’s approach of The Gambler.
Music is a universal force, a widely spread mean of communication on the entire planet, because it has a strong ability to influence human emotions, even without words (when referring to instrumental or symphonic music). Thus, music is one of the most challenging arts in ‘deciphering’ the hidden message of its creator. The present paper is focused on three analytical techniques which imposed themselves in the musicology field of the 20th century – structuralism, semiotics, narratology. Our purpose is to offer a general outlook on these perspectives and some specific principles of applicability when approaching a musical score, in terms of formal construction, sonorous structures, equivalence classes applied to musical elements, energetic potential of musical isotopes using modal verbs, essential aspects in determining the narrative frame (spatiality, temporality, actoriality). Structuralism, semiotics and narratology emerged as independent sciences successively, during half a century, influencing each other in a stimulating coexistence which enabled a wide scientific opening until present.