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Orange revolution

Published: March 9, 2007 (Issue # 1252)



  • Alain Maratrat (l) directs performers at a rehearsal of his production of The Love For Three Oranges at the Mariinsky Theater this week.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

Alain Maratrat aims to awaken opera fans joi de vivre in his production of Sergei Prokofievs The Love For Three Oranges which premieres on Wednesday at the Mariinsky Theater.

Inspired by Carlo Gozzis commedia dellarte scenario, the surrealistic and enchanting work is Prokofievs 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 Gozzis 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. Mariinskys 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 peoples 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.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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