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Thread: OTF - The Love for Three Oranges

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Involved Member itywltmt's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
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    Cool OTF - The Love for Three Oranges

    Every so often, I program operas on OTF that aren’t in one of the main languages (French, Italian or German). In the past, we’ve looked at operas in English, in Danish and in Russian. Today, it’s back to Russian with Sergei Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges.

    The basis for the opera is, in fact, a collection of Italian fairy tales by Giambattista Basile known as the Pentamerone. The long arc between these fairy tales revolves around a cursed, melancholy princess named Zoza ("mud" or "slime" in Neapolitan, but also used as a term of endearment). She cannot laugh, no matter what her father does to amuse her, so he sets up a fountain of oil by the door, thinking people slipping in the oil would make her laugh. An old woman tried to gather oil, a page boy broke her jug, and the old woman grew so angry that she danced about, and Zoza laughed at her. The old woman cursed her to marry only the prince of Round-Field, whom she could only wake by filling a pitcher with tears in three days. With some aid from fairies, who also give her gifts, Zoza found the prince and the pitcher, and nearly filled the pitcher when she fell asleep. A Moorish slave steals it, finishes filling it, and claims the prince. The Love for Three Oranges (or The Three Citrons) is the concluding tale in the collection, and the one the heroine uses to reveal that an imposter has taken her place.

    This fairy tale was the basis for Carlo Gozzi's commedia dell'arte play of the same name, which happens to be the source of the libretto to Prokofiev's opera. The eventual libretto was adapted by Prokofiev from Vsevolod Meyerhold's translation of Gozzi's play, modernizing some of the Commedia influences and also introducing a dose of Surrealism.

    Prokofiev himself was at the podium for the premiere performance on 30 December 1921 in Chicago, with the opera sung in French (as Prokofiev was not comfortable working on an English libretto and Russian would have been hard for American audiences). It received its first Russian production in 1926 and has since entered the standard repertoire of many opera companies.

    Here is a recording of a suite of instrumental highlights from the opera, including the well-known march:


    Today’s performance is taken from a landmark Soviet-era recording of the work. Barry Brenesal from Fanfare magazine writes:

    I remain as ever impressed by the way Dalgat sustains the pulse, clarifies textures—Prokofiev’s orchestration is especially startling and idiosyncratic in this score—and points the musical in-jokes. There’s no missing the dig at Puccini-esque harmonies when the evil characters of Smeraldina, Clarissa, and Leandro rapturously intone the name of “Fata Morgana,” for instance, or the numerous clichéd full cadence attempts by Celio to summon Farfarello, or the wonderfully ambiguous major-minor chord that concludes the game of the “kabalistic cards.”
    The cast members, many of whom had performed the work on stage over the years, are thoroughly into their roles. I’ve already mentioned Makhov and Polyakova, but deserving of equal praise are Viktor Ribinsky’s marvelously suffering, Boris-like King, whose lyrical “Odnazhdy doktora skazali” is a delight, as is Boris Dobrin’s unctuous, full-bodied Leandro. Gennadi Troitsky makes a sonorous Celio, and Georgi Abramov is the most menacing and grotesque Cook on DVD or CD. Tatiana Kallistratova’s light lyric is fully equal to the challenge of both Prokofiev’s earliest evocative love scene, and partnering with Makhov’s bright but flexible tenor. The chorus, which plays such an important role (actually, many roles) in this opera, is first-rate. All the beauty, snide wit, and iconoclasm of Prokofiev’s score are on view, not softened or drained of energy, as is all too regularly the case.
    Sergei Sergeyevich PROKOFIEV (1891 –1953)
    Любовь к трём апельсинам (The Love for Three Oranges,), op. 33
    Opera in four acts and one prologue, Russian libretto by the composer after Vsevolod Meyerhold's translation of Carlo Gozzi's play of the same name.

    Viktor Ribinsky ( King of Clubs )
    Vladimir Makhov ( Prince )
    Boris Dobrin ( Leandro )
    Lyutsia Rashkovets ( Princess Clarissa )
    Ivan Budrin ( Prantaloon )
    Yuri Yelnikov ( Truffaldino )
    Gennadi Troitsky ( Celio )
    Nina Polyakova ( Fata Morgana )
    Nina Postavnicheva ( Smeraldina )
    Georgi Abramov ( Cook )
    Yuri Yakushev ( Farfarello )
    Tatiana Kallistratova ( Ninetta )
    All-Union Radio/TV Large Symphony Orchestra and All-Union Radio Chorus
    Djemal Dalgat (1962)


    Hyperlink (MQCD Musique Classique):

  2. #2
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    I like this recording.

    I like the Melodiya record label. They have a great catalogue of performances from the Soviet time that have been released over the past few years. I only wish they could print with a libretto as well... some of the great operas that are accessible through the Melodiya catalogue are so under performed otherwise that it is not possible to find librettos or other supporting text for them.

    Fortunately this is not the case for The Love For Three Oranges (though the Melodiya recording does not have the libretto) and there have been a number of modern recordings and performances. Inspired by this thread (itywlymt, please keep the posts coming) I watched the DVD from the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence (courtesy of medici) today.

    Alexey Tanovitsky (King of Clubs); Andrey Ilyushnikov (the Prince); Nadezhda Serdjuk (Princess Clarissa); Eduard Tsanga (Leandro); Kirill Dusheschkin (Trouffaldino); Vladislas Sulimsky (Pantalone); Pavel Schmulevich (the magician, Chelio); Ekaterina Shimanovitch (Fata Morgana); Sophie Tellier (Linetta); Natalia Yevstafieva (Nicoletta); Julia Smorodina (Ninetta);Yuriy Vorobiev (the Cook): Alexander Gerasimov (Farfarello);Wojciek Ziarnik (Herald); Juan Noval (Master of Ceremonies) & Michel Fau (The Diva)
    EuropaChorAkademie & Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Tugan Sokhiev
    Stage Direction: Philippe Calvario; Sets: Jean-Marc Stehlé; Costumes:Aurore Popineau; Lighting: Bertrand Couderc; Directed for video by Don Kent Coproduction Festival d'Aix-en-Provence 2004, Teatro Real de Madrid

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    bonkers but lovely

  3. #3
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    then, because bonkers and bonkers go hand in hand, I also listened to the Dalgat recording. Though it is difficult to compare a video recording to audio, the Dalgat would be my preferred choice.
    I like this opera very much (but I'm afraid the musical in-jokes just fly-by way over my head).

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