Prokofiev, The Love for Three Oranges, 1921
musical in-jokes, his “greatest fusion of magic, comedy and satire.” The Love for Three Oranges operates on multiple levels - whether as a play within a play, as a witty critique of operatic tradition, or as a dialectic between historical commedia dell'arte and modern political commentary - and this has attracted many of the world's leading directors and designers to stage the work. Most refreshing of all, however, is the composer's miraculous aural imagination, achieving the near impossible fusion of childlike simplicity and mature sophistication, guaranteeing this opera's continuing universal appeal. (Boosey & Hawkes)

The ultimate silly opera story

Prokofiev’s third opera premiered in 1919 – when he was starting work on Fiery Angel (1919-27).  He was so taken by the crazy plot he wrote the libretto himself (on the train) and conducted the first performance. It’s a French libretto (Russian would have been too difficult in the US) from an Italian play, commissioned and premiered in Chicago – he got around!  Californian citrus growers fought for rights to advertise in the theatre. Take a melancholy prince, a cantankerous witch and the curse of a love strange and strong: an unquenchable passion of unusual fashion for not just one orange, but three! Add an infectious march, some fantastical farce and a kingdom of curious characters, and you have Prokofiev's surreal, screwball

Quick Links

History & Synopsis Full opera video  (the famous Opera North production with ‘sniff’ cards)

Our Production

Opéra National de Lyon in 1989, Conductor: Kent Nagano. Gabriel Bacquier, Jean-Luc Viala, Georges Gautier, Catherine Dubosc, Jules Bastin. Get a taste here!   Review here.
fairytale for adults. This Russian gem is juicy, sweet and a trifle acerbic, just like the proverbial oranges.(More in OA’s cheat sheet). In Chicago, it was poorly received. One critic wrote, "Russian jazz with Bolshevik trimmings", and another, "The work is intended, one learns, to poke fun. As far as I am able to discern, it pokes fun chiefly at those who paid money for it". (Read more on its history in Wikipedia.) On the surface, it’s a joke plot – nicely summarized by OA for the production that didn’t come to Melbourne in 2016. (Reviewed here). But it’s been praised as his most complex music, some marvellous marches and arias, and full of