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John Terauds("From “Stunning Opera is a True Feast")
Toronto Star, October 2006

I'm one of those people who gets as big a thrill from a strong opera chorus as from a well-turned aria. And this week's operas on DVD offer a healthy kick of musical crowd action.

THE LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES By Sergei Prokofiev. De Nederlandse Opera. (OpusArte)

If only we could see more productions like this stunning 2005 Dutch effort presented at the Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam. This is opera at its most vital and compelling.

Young director (and costume designer) Laurent Pelly and set designer Chantal Thomas let their imaginations run riot, emphasizing the slapsticky commedia dell'arte themes in the opera about the King of Clubs and his hypochondriac son, whose life is manipulated by a bad witch and a good wizard.

The design is dominated by the motif of playing cards. The three fruit of the title are big foam creations from which spring three thirsty princesses — one of whom will finally help the Prince grow up.

Inspired by an 18th-century play by Carlo Gozzi, Sergei Prokofiev created a particularly punchy score where the music and words mock theatrical conventions, including the role of critics and the audience.

Young French conductor Stéphane Denève (who has recently been a guest of the Toronto Symphony) works wonders with the score and all of the singers deliver strong performances.

Better yet, the audio and visuals are excellent and there is a good (if unfocused) background featurette on one of the two discs. The booklet contains interesting excerpts from Prokofiev's diary concerning the difficult first production in Chicago in 1921. It's sung in French, but with ample language choices for the subtitles.

Sandrine Piau
De Volkskrant

‘Pelly is the Pierre Audi of Grenoble. He has a reputation for comedy with a contemplative side, which succeeds not only thanks to witches and sorcerers such as Anna Shafainska, Marianna Kulikova and Willard White, but above all to Orange no. 3, out of which springs a splendid soprano

Algemeen Dagblad

‘…a witty and sparkling performance that rushes past your eyes like a whirlwind. The French producer Laurent Pelly and his team have created two hours of pure enjoyment. … Pelly lets the events of the plot unfold in a most inventive fashion, letting them tumble over each others’ heels. He creates a surrealistic atmosphere that is miraculous, strange, witty and above all gripping. … The splendidly playing Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra hustles along with the difficult score as if it were nothing; thanks to conductor Stéphane Denève, the stage spectacle is perfectly accompanied. This, in combination with the excellent singers, makes this production a true and rare feast for both eye and ear.’


Het Parool

‘A wonderful spectacle… A masterful staging of Prokofiev’s Love for three oranges from DNO. … Seldom have we seen such a successful synthesis of music, image and wit on the operatic stage.’

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