Published: March 9, 2007 (Issue # 1252)
Alain Maratrat aims to awaken opera fans joi de vivre in his production of Sergei Prokofiev’s “The Love For Three Oranges” which premieres on Wednesday at the Mariinsky Theater.
Inspired by Carlo Gozzi’s commedia dell’arte scenario, the surrealistic and enchanting work is Prokofiev’s most widely performed opera. The Gozzi tale was admired by the composer for its bright theatricality and a whimsical fusion of magic and parody.
“When I left Moscow, I took a volume of plays with me for the journey; in it was printed Carlo Gozzi’s ‘The Love For Three Oranges’,” Prokofiev wrote in his diary. “It held me spellbound with its mix of fairy tales, humor and satire — it was during that long journey that I began something resembling a sketch for the opera.”
“The Love For Three Oranges” tells the story of a hypochondriac prince who falls in love with a princess from a distance. The prince is looking for a place for himself and is rewarded by the love of the princess. The opera is packed with miracles, parodies and mystifications.
The opera first saw the stage in Chicago on Dec. 30, 1921, and immediately became a favorite on the international opera scene. It enjoyed its first staging at the Mariinsky five years later. Prokofiev welcomed the Russian premiere — staged by director Sergei Radlov — by saying that the show was by far the most successful production of the opera he had seen. Mariinsky’s second take on the opera, directed by Alexander Petrov, followed in 1991.
“This work is like a bustling musical show, with a lot of drive and passion,” Maratrat, the French director of the latest version, said, exuding enthusiasm and promising a dynamic production with snappy changes of set. “And this is a fantastic story.”
Maratrat is hoping to inspire and encourage a more cheerful and more curious attitude in the audiences. The hypochondriac prince has become a common type these days, the director feels.
“There are so many young people who do exactly the same — shutting themselves off from the real world, hiding from reality on the internet, and being afraid of life itself,” Maratrat said. “They need a way out of that trap, and the story of the poor prince shows one such way. We need to make it believable.”
“I do feel I need to whet people’s appetite for life,” Maratrat told The St. Petersburg Times in an interview between rehearsals on Tuesday. “Look around, and you see that even young people have a meagre appetite for life; dull, uninspired faces abound the streets, regardless of where you go. People just do not smile anymore.”Pages: