Prokofiev’s first mature opera The Gambler was a radical work that was, in many ways, ahead of its time. This article reflects on some of the changes the composer made to the 1917 version of the opera when he came to revise it a decade later. In the process of discussing these revisions, the article will provide insights into the nature of Prokofiev’s theatrical instinct. The composer’s operatic ideal depended primarily on the crafting of a ‘theatrical rhythm’ that would shape the entire work. Characterization and declamation techniques also play a crucial role in controlling the work’s internal rhythm and in achieving a degree of dramatic realism.