Notes and Editorial Reviews
Love for Three Oranges is Prokofiev's most often performed opera. No mystery why. Its wacky plot line yields fun and laughs and it features some of Prokofiev's most inventive orchestral music, including the famous March, often plundered for commercials and encores. To the extent that the story is capable of coherent summary, it concerns nasty plotters at the king's court, scheming (with supernatural assistance) to replace the hypochondriac prince as the heir to the throne. Cursed to fall in love with three oranges, the newly invigorated prince sets off to find them. In the very funny third act the prince finds his beloved Ninetta inside the last of the oranges. In the final fourth act, the baddies
turn her into a rat, but all ends well as their nefarious machinations are discovered, Ninetta is restored, and all live happily ever after.
The fairy-tale setting and plot absurdities mock traditional opera story devices, and Prokofiev dynamites convention by doing away with arias and set numbers. The only parts you're likely to whistle after it's over are snippets of orchestral themes. The opera's lasting appeal seems rooted in its mocking iconoclasm and unpretentious high jinks. Written to a Russian text and premiered in Chicago in French translation, the opera flourishes in either language.
Here, Valery Gergiev and his splendid Russian cast predictably and correctly opt for the Russian text and they rip into it with gusto. Mikhail Kit is a noble King of Clubs, mezzo Larissa Diadkova a particularly nasty Princess Clarissa (the heir-aspirant), and the various courtiers, demons, and minor figures like the giant (shades of Jack and the Beanstalk) are done with broad humor that never goes over the top. Most impressive is tenor Evgeny Akimov as the prince whose demise is planned at one point to be accomplished by "a diet of tragic prose" and "horribly indigestible verses" intended to induce him to "expire in a hypochondriac nightmare." Akimov is as funny as the whining prince of Act 1 as he is the ardent lover of the later scenes, using his light tenor to compelling effect in both. The chorus, split to represent the Tragicals, Comicals, Empty Heads, and Eccentrics who set the whole play-within-a-play into motion, is excellent. The orchestra is superb as is the engineering, from Amsterdam's Concertgebouw. The Kirov's valuable Prokofiev opera series has another winner.
--Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Love for Three Oranges, Op. 33 by Sergei Prokofiev
Vladimir Vaneev (Bass),
Larissa Schevtchenko (Soprano),
Zlata Bulycheva (Mezzo Soprano),
Konstantin Pluzhnikov (Tenor),
Lia Shevtsova (Soprano),
Grigory Karasev (Bass),
Vassily Gerelo (Baritone),
Fyodor Kuznetsov (Bass),
Yuri Zhikalov (Tenor),
Evgeny Akimov (Tenor),
Larissa Diadkova (Mezzo Soprano),
Alexandr Morozov (Baritone),
Anna Netrebko (Soprano),
Olga Korzhenskaya (Mezzo Soprano),
Mikhail Kit (Bass)
Kirov Theater Orchestra,
Kirov Theater Chorus
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1919; USA
Date of Recording: 1997-98
Venue: Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Length: 101 Minutes 58 Secs.
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