Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Janáček, The Makropulos Case, Bavarian State Opera

Opera houses’ neglect of Janáček remains one of the most baffling of the many baffling aspects of the ‘repertoire’. At least three of the composer’s operas would be perfect introductions to the art form: Jenůfa, Katya Kabanova, or The Cunning Little Vixen would surely hook most for life. From the House of the Dead might do likewise for someone of a rather different disposition, sceptical of opera’s claims and conventions.

Il barbiere di Siviglia at Glyndebourne

Director Annabel Arden believes that Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia is ‘all about playfulness, theatricality, light and movement’. It’s certainly ‘about’ those things and they are, as Arden suggests, ‘based in the music’.

Oedipe at Covent Garden

George Enescu’s Oedipe was premiered in Paris 1936 but it has taken 80 years for the opera to reach the stage of Covent Garden. This production by Àlex Ollé (a member of the Catalan theatrical group, La Fura Dels Baus) and Valentina Carrasco, which arrives in London via La Monnaie where it was presented in 2011, was eagerly awaited and did not disappoint.

Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at Lyric Opera, Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago staged Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette as the last opera in its current subscription season.

L’incoronazione di Poppea, RAO

‘The plot is perhaps the least moral in all opera; wrong triumphs in the name of love and we are not expected to mind.’

Madame Butterfly , ENO

Anthony Minghella’s production of Madame Butterfly for ENO is wearing well. First seen in 2005, it is now being aired for the sixth time and is still, as I observed in 2013, ‘a breath-taking visual banquet’.

Valiant but tentative: La straniera at the Concertgebouw

This concert version of La straniera felt like a compulsory musicology field trip, but it had enough vocal flashes to lobby for more frequent performances of this midway Bellini.

London Festival of Baroque Music 2016: Words with Purcell

As poetry is the harmony of words, so music is that of notes; and as poetry is a rise above prose and oratory, so is music the exaltation of poetry.

The Dark Mirror: Zender’s Winterreise

From experiments with musique concrète in the 1940s, to the Minimalists’ explorations into tape-loop effects in the 1960s, via the appearance of hip-hop in the 1970s and its subsequent influence on electronic dance music in the 1980s, to digital production methods today, ‘sampling’ techniques have been employed by musicians working in genres as diverse as jazz fusion, psychedelic rock and classical music.

Great Scott Wows San Diego

On May 7, 2016, San Diego Opera presented the West Coast premiere of Great Scott, an opera by Terrence McNally and Jake Heggie. McNally’s original libretto pokes fun at everything from football to bel canto period opera. It includes snippets of nineteenth century tunes as well as Heggie's own bel canto writing.

Bellini’s Adelson e Salvini, London

A foiled abduction, a castle-threatening inferno, romantic infatuation, guilt-laden near-suicide, gun-shots and knife-blows: Andrea Leone Tottola’s libretto for Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, certainly does not lack dramatic incident.

Manitoba Opera: Of Mice and Men

Opera as an art form has never shied away from the grittier shadows of life. Nor has Manitoba Opera, with its recent past productions dealing with torture, incest, murder and desperate political prisoners still so tragically relevant today.

The Rose and the Ring

Published in 1855 as an entertainment for his two daughters, William Makepeace Thackeray’s The Rose and the Ring is a burlesque fairy-tale whose plot — to the author’s wilful delight, perhaps — defies summation and elucidation.

The Lighthouse at San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle

What more fitting memorial for composer Peter Maxwell Davies (d. 03/14/2016) than a splendid performance of The Lighthouse, the third of his eight works for the stage.

King’s Consort at Wigmore Hall

I suspect that many of those at the Wigmore Hall for The King’s Consort’s performance of the La Senna festeggiante (The Rejoicing Seine) were lured by the cachet of ‘Antonio Vivaldi’ and further enticed by the notion of a lover’s serenade at which the generic term ‘serenata’ seems to hint.

Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2016

Having enjoyed superb singing by a young cast of soloists in Classical Opera’s UK premiere of Jommelli’s Il Vogoleso the previous evening, I was delighted that the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final at the Wigmore Hall confirmed the strength and depth of talent possessed by the young singers studying in and emerging from our academies and conservatoires.

Pacific Opera Project Recreates Mozart and Salieri Contest

On February 7, 1786, Emperor Joseph II of Austria had brand new one-act operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri performed in the Schönbrunn Palace’s Orangery.

Powerful chemistry in La Cenerentola in Cologne

Those poor opera lovers in Cologne have a never ending problem with the city’s opera house. Together with the rest of city, the construction of the new opera house is mired in political incompetence.

Tannhäuser: Royal Opera House, London

London remains starved of Wagner. This season, its major companies offer but two works, Tannhäuser from the Royal Opera and Tristan from ENO.

The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf

Dmitry Bertman’s hilarious staging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s political sex-comedy The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Sergey Prokofiev: L’Amour des trois Oranges (The Love for 3 Oranges)
15 Sep 2011

L’Amour des trois oranges on CD and DVD

Opera companies around the world — though relatively few in the United States — cannot resist the temptation to stage Sergei Prokofiev’s first major opera.

Sergey Prokofiev: L’Amour des trois Oranges (The Love for 3 Oranges)

Le roi de Trèfle: Philippe Rouillon; Le Prince: Charles Workman; La princesse Clarice: Hannah Esther Minutillo; Léandre: Guillaume Antoine; Trouffaldino: Barry Banks; Pantalon: Jean-Luc Ballestra; Tchélio: José van Dam; Fata Morgana: Béatrice Uria-Monzon; Linette: Letitia Singleton; Nicolette: Natacha Constantin; Ninette: Aleksandra Zamojska; La Cuisinière: Victor van Halem; Farfarello: Jean-Sébastien Bou; Sméraldine: Lucia Cirillo; Le Maître de cérémonie: Nicolas Marie; Le Héraut: David Bizic. Paris National Opera Chorus and Orchestra (chorus master: Peter Burian). Sylvain Cambreling, conductor. Gilbert Deflo, stage director. William Orlandi, set and costume designer. Joël Hourbeigt, lighting designer. Marta Ferri, choreographer. Recorded live from the Opéra national de Paris, 2005.

ArtHaus Musik 107241 DVD]

$29.99  Click to buy

The irony there is that L’Amour des trois oranges debuted in Chicago, and legendarily, almost bankrupted the company. Of course, the “March” from the score is one Prokofiev’s smash hits, and the entire suite the composer derived from his score contains much fine music, in the composer’s inimitable mix of idiosyncratic melodicism and ingenious orchestration.

The temptation to stage the opera should probably be resisted, however, and U.S. companies that live and die at the box office and by donors’ generosity have no problem doing so. That’s probably due to the fact that no matter how attractive Prokofiev’s music is, the opera is tiresome and dated in its “modernistic” blend of fairy tale and farce. The original Carlo Gozzi play may or may not be a fine piece of literature, but the libretto that the composer and Vera Janacopoulos adapted from it overestimates the ability of stock comic characters and surrealistic action to support a cohesive evening of musical theater.

3Oranges_Nagano.png

Two recent releases of the opera, one on DVD and one on CD, highlight the opera’s problems — ironically, by their sheer excellence. Despite the brilliant musical performance Kent Nagano leads in the 1989 Virgin Classics recording, without any visual element the score becomes a test of patience as the listener awaits the end of the “declarative” sections and an outburst of Prokofiev’s scintillating orchestral interludes. The cast is able but not compelling. Virgin provides, in its budget line, a third disc containing the libretto and notes.

On DVD, the 2005 Paris Opera production of director Gilbert Deflo can at least be enjoyed for its theatrical invention, with creative sets and costumes by William Orlandi. The performers are clearly having a wonderful time. However, the masks and make-up dampen even more the flat characters such reliable performers as Barry Banks and Beatrice Uria-Monzon inhabit. With no emotional involvement on the audience’s part, a few chuckles aren’t enough of a theatrical reward. Chuckles are better than groans, however, which many viewers will emit in the scene with a female character in blackface.

A 30 minute bonus feature, audaciously titled “How to Fall in Love with Three Oranges” only demonstrates the opera’s problems, as it mostly consists of the performers laboriously recounting their character’s actions and, without much conviction, trying to assign routine human motivations to the nonsensical action. Conductor Sylvain Cambreling selected a score edition which reprises the famous March so often that by the closing iteration one may not want to hear it ever again.

For those with more admiration for the score or opera than this reviewer, both these versions can be recommended for their overall high quality. For those in sympathy with the views expressed here, look for any orchestral performance of the suite. L’Amour des trois oranges is more than its famous “March” — but still not a successful opera.

Chris Mullins

 

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):