Opera Scotland

Love for Three Oranges Lyubov k tryom apel'sinam; L'Amour des Trois Oranges; The Love of Three Oranges

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Sergey Prokofiev (born Sontsovka, Ukraine, 23 April 1891; died Moscow, 5 March 1953)


The composer


Play (1761), by Carlo Gozzi (1720-1806).



First performance: Chicago (Auditorium), 30 December 1921.

First UK performance: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 24 August 1962.

First performance in Scotland: As above.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



Prokofiev threw a mix of styles of music into this ribald, absurdist comedy, which contains music, including a march, which has become popular in concert. It was commissioned for Chicago in 1919, but took a couple of years to materialise. The Belgrade Opera gave the first British performances in Edinburgh, and Opera North brought its production to the 1989 Festival. Scottish Opera have not yet mounted a production, though they provided the orchestra and technical support for a production mounted in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 2009 by the RSAMD.


Main Characters

King of Clubs, ruler of an imaginary kingdom (bass)

Prince, his son (tenor)

Princess Clarice, a niece of the King (contralto)

Leandro, the Prime Minister (baritone)

Truffaldino, a jester (tenor)

Tchelio, a magician, protector of the King (baritone)

Fata Morgana, a witch, protectress of Leandro (soprano)

Princess Ninetta (soprano)

Cook (bass)

Smeraldina, a servant of Fata Morgana (mezzo-soprano)


Plot Summary

In an imaginary kingdom, where all the characters are costumed as playing cards, the prince suffers from melancholia which can only be cured by laughter. All attempts to make him laugh are thwarted by Leandro, Clarissa and their associates. Their plots are assisted by the arrival of Fata Morgana. All the entertainments staged by Truffaldino have no effect on the young prince. Eventually Fata Morgana, in a scuffle with Truffaldino, stumbles and falls over, causing the prince to laugh, but the humiliation she feels makes her even angrier than before. She pronounces a curse, that the prince will love three oranges, which are in the possession of a giant cook. The Prince and Truffaldino steal them, but are then marooned in a desert with the oranges, which have grown to an enormous size. While the prince dozes, Truffaldino cuts one open, hoping to quench his thirst. The orange contains a princess who immediately dies of thirst. The same happens with the second orange. The prince wakes and opens the third, and the Princess Ninetta is only saved by the intervention of the audience, who provide a bucket of water. Back at court, the king’s enemies continue to plot, but are at last recognised and defeated.

The Cast

 a demon
Fata Morgana
 a witch, protectress of Léandre
King of Clubs
 ruler of an imaginary Kingdom
 the prime minister
 a princess
Maître de Cérémonies
 a princess
 a princess
 courtier and confidant of the King
 son of the King
Princess Clarice
 a niece of the King
 a follower of Fata Morgana
 a magician, protector of the King
 a jester

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