A fairytale-like production of Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, conducted by Tugan Sokhiev and directed by Philippe Calvario, at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2004.
After his successful visit in the United States in 1918, Prokofiev received a commission to compose an opera from the director of the Chicago Opera Association, Cleofonte Campanini. The result of this commission was The Love for Three Oranges, a satirical opera drawing its inspiration from Carlo Gozzi's play published in 1761. It is thanks to the avant-garde stage director, Vsevolod Meyerhold, that Prokofiev discovered Gozzi's work. Inspired by this play in which many plots are intertwined, several fairy characters appear, having all the 'Commedia dell'Arte's' features, Prokofiev composed a spirited musical accompaniment on a libretto written by himself in Russian. The premiere took place at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Illinois, on the 30th of December 1921, in French.
With this production of The Love for Three Oranges at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2004, Philippe Calvario made his début as a stage director. As this video bears witness, the set designs, the costumes and the actors' playing – and especially Andrei Iliouchnikov's performance, give a perfect rendition of this burlesque opera filled with slapstick comedic moments. The young Tugan Sokhiev, a former pupil of Valery Gergiev, conducts here the musicians throughout this frenzied performance.
The King of Clubs has asked Truffaldino, the jester, to heal his son the Prince with laughter, a young man who became sad after an excessive reading of tragic poetry. But this is a hard task, especially since Clarice, the King's niece, Leandro, and the witch Fata Morgana plot against the Prince to take his place after his death. Yet, the Prince eventually laughs, seeing the witch knocked over by Truffaldino and falling down. Furious, the witch curses the Prince: henceforth, he will be obsessed by a love for three oranges kept by a giant female cook. Thanks to Truffaldino and a few magic objects, the Prince succeeds in seducing the three oranges, transformed into three beautiful princesses. Two of them die, yet the last one survives, and eventually gets married with the Prince.
© Picture: Elizabeth Carecchio
Daniel Barenboim (conductor) – Staatsoper Berlin
Symphony Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater — The complete Prokofiev symphonies. Moscow Easter Festival
Dmitri Tcherniakov (stage director), Alexander Vedernikov (conductor)
André Engel (stage director), Dennis Russell Davies (conductor) – With Elena Tsallagova (The Vixen), Paul Gay (Harašta)