Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

The Met’s ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ a happy marriage of ensemble singing and acting

The cast of supporting roles was especially strong in the company’s new production of Mozart’s matchless masterpiece

Syracuse Opera’s ‘Die Fledermaus’ bubbles over with fun, laughter and irresistible music

The company uncorks its 40th Anniversary season with a visually and musically satisfying production of Johann Strauss Jr.’s farcical operetta

Capriccio at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Although performances of Richard Strauss’s last opera Capriccio have increased in recent time, Lyric Opera of Chicago has not experienced the “Konversationsstück für Musik” during the past twenty odd years.

Anna Netrebko, now a dramatic soprano, shines in the Met’s dark and murky ‘Macbeth’

The former lyric soprano holds up well — and survives the intrusive close-up camerawork of the ‘Live in HD’ transmission

Arizona Opera Presents First Mariachi Opera

Houston Grand Opera commissioned Cruzar la Cara de la Luna from composer José “Pepe” Martínez, music director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, who wrote the text together with Broadway and opera director Leonard Foglia. The work had its world premier in 2010. Since then, it has traveled to several cities including Paris, Chicago, and San Diego.

Plácido Domingo: I due Foscari, London

“Why should I go to hear Plácido Domingo” someone said when Verdi’s I due Foscari was announced by the Royal Opera House. There are very good reasons for doing so.

Philip Glass’s The Trial

Music Theatre Wales presented the world premiere of Philip Glass’s The Trial (Kafka) last night at the Linbury, Royal Opera House. Music Theatre Wales started doing Glass in 1989. Their production of Glass’s In the Penal Colony in 2010 was such a success that Glass conceived The Trial specially for the company.

Joyce DiDonato: Alcina, Barbican, London

To say that the English Concert’s performance of Handel’s Alcina at the Barbican on 10 October 2014 was hotly anticipated would be an understatement. Sold out for weeks, the performance capitalised on the draw of its two principals Joyce DiDonato and Alice Coote and generated the sort of buzz which the work did at its premiere.

Un ballo in maschera in San Francisco

The subject is regicide, a hot topic during the Italian risorgimento when the Italian peninsula was in the grip of the Hapsburgs, the Bourbons, the House of Savoy and the Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

A New Don Giovanni and Anniversary at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago opened its sixtieth anniversary season with a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni directed by Artistic Director of the Goodman Theater, Robert Falls.

Grande messe des morts, LSO

It was a little over two years ago that I heard Sir Colin Davis conduct the Berlioz Requiem in St Paul’s Cathedral; it was the last time I heard — or indeed saw — him conduct his beloved and loving London Symphony Orchestra.

Guillaume Tell, Welsh National Opera

Part of their Liberty or Death season along with Rossini’s Mose in Egitto and Bizet’s Carmen, Welsh National Opera performed David Pountney’s new production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell (seen 4 October 2014).

Mose in Egitto, Welsh National Opera

Welsh National Opera’s production of Rossini’s Mose in Egitto was the second of two Rossini operas (the other is Guillaume Tell) performed in tandem for their autumn tour.

L’incoronazione di Poppea, Barbican Hall

In Monteverdi’s first Venetian opera, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse (1641), Penelope’s patient devotion as she waits for the return of her beloved Ulysses culminates in the triumph of love and faithfulness; in contrast, in L’incoronazione di Poppea it is the eponymous Queen’s lust, passion and ambition that prevail.

Rameau’s Les Paladins, Wigmore Hall

After the triumphs of love, the surprises: Les Paladins, under their director Jérôme Correas, and soprano Sandrine Piau are following their tour of material from their 2011 CD, ‘Le Triomphe de L’amour’, with a new amatory arrangement.

Puccini : The Girl of the Golden West, ENO London

At the ENO, Puccini's La fanciulla del West becomes The Girl of the Golden West. Hearing this opera in English instead of Italian has its advantages, While we can still hear the exotic, Italianate Madama Butterfly fantasies in the orchestra, in English, we're closer to the original pot-boiler melodrama. Madama Biutterfly is premier cru: The Girl of the Golden West veers closer, at times, to hokum. The new ENO production gets round the implausibility of the plot by engaging with its natural innocence.

Anna Caterina Antonacci, Wigmore Hall, London

Presenting a well-structured and characterful programme, Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci demonstrated her prowess in both soprano and mezzo repertoire in this Wigmore Hall recital, performing European works from the early years of the twentieth century. Assuredly accompanied by her regular pianist Donald Sulzen, Antonacci was self-composed and calm of manner, but also evinced a warmly engaging stage presence throughout.

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Royal Opera

Bold, bright and brash, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s Il barbiere di Siviglia tells its story clearly in complementary primary colours.

Gluck and Bertoni at Bampton

Bampton Classical Opera’s 2014 double bill neatly balanced drollery and gravity. Rectifying the apparent prevailing indifference to the 300th centenary of Christoph Willibald Gluck birth, Bampton offered a sharp, witty production of the composer’s Il Parnaso confuso, pairing this ‘festa teatrale’ with Ferdinando Bertoni’s more sombre Orfeo.

Purcell: A Retrospective

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra launched the Wigmore Hall’s two-year series, ‘Purcell: A Retrospective’, in splendid style. Flexibility, buoyancy and transparency were the watchwords.

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):