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Prokofiev: The Love For Three Oranges / Vernhes, Defontaine, Deneve, Rotterdam PO [Blu-ray]

Prokofiev / Piau / Rco / Deneve
Release Date: 01/27/2009 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 7016  
Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Anna ShafajinskajaWillard WhiteMartial DefontaineSandrine Piau,   ... 
Conductor:  Stéphane Denève
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Opera ChorusRotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 24 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

*** This Blu-ray Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players and not compatible with standard DVD or HD DVD players. ***

Also available on standard DVD

PROKOFIEV The Love for Three Oranges & Stéphane Denève, cond; Alain Vernhes ( King of Clubs ); Martial Defontaine ( Prince ); François Le Roux ( Léandre Read more class="ARIAL12">); Natascha Petrinsky ( Princess Clarice ); Serghei Khomov ( Trouffaldino ); Willard White ( Tchélio ); Anna Shafajinskaja ( Fata Morgana ); Sandrine Piau ( Ninette ); Rotterdam PO; Netherlands Op Ch BBC/OPUS ARTE 7016 (Blu-ray Disc: 144:00) Live: Amsterdam 2005

& Interviews with cast and artistic team; cast gallery; illustrated synopsis

This visually stunning realization of Sergei Prokofiev’s most popular opera is a fine exemplar of Blu-ray’s high-resolution video wonders. Set Designer Chantal Thomas and Stage Director/Costume Designer Laurent Pelly capture the commedia dell’ arte spirit of Carlo Gozzi’s 18th-century stage work admirably. There’s a parade of extraordinary images and non-stop, churning movement—the witch Fata Morgana and the magician Tchélio playing cards on woozily gliding elevated chairs; the jester Trouffaldino mussing the conductor’s hair as the poor guy is trying to work; the three princesses emerging from their humongous hesperidia in the third act. Everyone, including the trombonist who comes out on stage to blast his low notes during the Prologue, seems to be having a great time. It’s perhaps best expressed, in heavily accented and grammatically approximate English, by the exuberant Ukrainian soprano Anna Shafajinskaja, whose Fata Morgana is one of the many highlights of the production. “This will give you freedom, joy, laugh, humor, everything—just a celebration of life,” she tells us to close the 25-minute “Introduction” included as an extra on this Opus Arte release.

The magisterial presence of Sir Willard White notwithstanding, most of the cast is either French or Russian, and the performance possesses a Gallic lightness with a Slavic edge. Alain Vernhes is a world-worn King of Clubs and, as his hypochondriacal son, Martial Defontaine portrays a kind of anti-Siegfried, heading off to seek the fruit of his dreams in his pajamas. In fact, the production seems alert to the fact that Prokofiev wrote The Love for Three Oranges in an atmosphere of anti-Wagnerism: the demon Farfarello’s very name suggests Fafner, and the Prince must survive an encounter, not with a dragon, but with a terrifying cook, armed with a formidable ladle and played to perfection by Richard Angas, with pendulous breasts and spindly legs. Sergei Khomov represents Trouffaldino as a cross between Leporello and Loge. The two conspiring baddies, Léandre (François Le Roux) and Princess Clarice (Natascha Petrinsky), are suitably diabolical. As Ninette, the princess who actually survives the emergence from her giant orange, Sandrine Piau makes a lovely impression, visually and vocally.

The chorus seems to be everywhere, doing everything, a feast to look at and musically precise. The Rotterdam orchestra, energetically conducted by Stéphane Denève, sounds terrific. The multichannel program is dimensional, if not extraordinarily spacious; the sonics in both stereo and surround are detailed and timbrally appealing. In addition to the above-noted Introduction, there’s a Plot Synopsis, delivered without a trace of irony by Opus Arte’s usual Plot Synopsis guy. Subtitle choices are English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch.

A real gem, urgently recommended.

FANFARE: Andrew Quint
Le Roi de Trèfle – Alain Vernhes
Le Prince – Martial Defontaine
Léandre – François Le Roux
Trouffaldino – Serghei Khomov
Ninette – Sandrine Piau
Fata Morgana – Anna Shafajinskaja
Tchélio – Sir Willard White

Laurent Pelly, stage director

Recorded live at Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam, in 2005.

- Cast gallery and illustrated synopsis
- Introduction including interviews with main members of the cast and the artistic team.

Picture format: 1080/ 59.94i High Definition, NTSC 16:9
Sound: 2.0 and 5.1 PCM audio
Region code: 0 (All Regions)
Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch
Running time: 144 mins
No. of discs: 1 (Blu-ray, double-side)

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Works on This Recording

Love for Three Oranges, Op. 33 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Anna Shafajinskaja (Soprano), Willard White (Bass), Martial Defontaine (Tenor),
Sandrine Piau (Soprano), Alain Vernhes (Bass), François Le Roux (Baritone),
Serghei Khomov (Tenor)
Conductor:  Stéphane Denève
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Opera Chorus,  Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; USA 

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