The love for the three oranges

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Work data
Title: The love for the three oranges
Original title: L'amour des trois oranges
Photo of a performance at the Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, 1971

Photo of a performance at the Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse , 1971

Original language: French
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Libretto : Sergei Prokofiev, Véra Janocopulos
Literary source: Carlo Gozzi : L'amore delle tre melarance
Premiere: December 30, 1921
Place of premiere: Auditorium Theater Chicago
Playing time: about 2 hours
Place and time of the action: imaginary realm of the king meeting
  • König Treff ( bass )
  • The prince, his son ( tenor )
  • Princess Clarisse (mezzo-soprano)
  • Leander (baritone, also bass)
  • Truffaldino, a joker (tenor)
  • Pantalon (baritone)
  • Tschelio, Magician a. Protector of the King ( baritone )
  • Fata Morgana, Sorceress (Dramatic Soprano )
  • Linetta ( alt )
  • Nicoletta (mezzo-soprano)
  • Ninetta (soprano)
  • The cook (bass [in a rough voice])
  • Farfarello, a devil (bass)
  • Smeraldine (soubrette, also mezzo-soprano)
  • Master of ceremonies (tenor)
  • The Herald (bass)

The love for the three oranges (French original title: L'amour des trois oranges , Russian: Любовь к трём апельсинам , Lyubow k trjom apelsinam ) is an opera by Sergei Prokofjew in four acts (ten pictures) and a prelude. The libretto written by the composer is an adaptation of the eponymous Divertissements of Vsevolod Meyerhold and Vladimir Solovyov , for its part, Russian Constantine Wogaks translation of Carlo Gozzi Canovaccio to the impromptu comedy L'amore delle tre melarance based. For the premiere on December 30, 1921 in the Auditorium Theater in Chicago , the composer created a French version together with Véra Janacopulos. There is a German version by Jürgen Benthien and Eberhard Sprink and a second by Werner Hintze.



In front of the curtain appear the tragic, the comic, the lyrical and the hollow-headed, with each individual group trying to ensure that the piece that suits them is performed. The tragic want a tragedy , the comic a comedy , the lyrical a love story and the hollow headed an easy piece of entertainment. That's when the ridiculous step in. They announce the play The Love for the Three Oranges and promise that they and the other groups will not always stand idly by. The Herald introduces the story and announces that the king is grieving over his sick son.

First and second act

King Treff is concerned: his only son, the Hereditary Prince, suffers from incurable hypochondriac depression. Should the prince not be cured, the king sees the only and unwanted alternative that his niece Clarisse inherit the throne. There is only one cure for the prince's illness: laughter. The king gives the jester Truffaldino the job of arranging festivities with masquerades and funny swans that could make the prince laugh. In an interim episode, Fata Morgana and Tschelio play cards with commentary from the choir. Fata Morgana plays for the well-being of Leander, who wishes the prince's death; Tschelio plays for the prince's well-being. Tschelio loses three times and the game is decided for Leander. Leander and Clarisse decide to take the throne together. She will marry him if he helps her to kill the prince. Clarisse wants to make short work of it and kill the prince as quickly as possible. Leander, on the other hand, would like to proceed cautiously and prefer to poison the prince with inedible prose and dark poems, which he mixes in his food. Leander discovers Smeraldina, who is hiding. He feels spied on and wants to hand her over to the hangman. Smeraldina, however, explains that she was sent by Fata Morgana, and that she is on the side of Leander and Clarisse. Truffaldino and the magician Tschelio, on the other hand, are on the side of the king. At the planned festival, a mirage will creep in and thus keep the prince from laughing by their mere presence. At the mask festival Truffaldino tries in vain to amuse the prince. The sorceress Fata Morgana appears, whom Truffaldino faces and with whom he gets into a scuffle. The sorceress finally falls on her back, legs stretched high in the air. The prince has to laugh about this until he is completely exhausted, the court society cheers. Thereupon the mirage, surrounded by little devils, rises and curses the prince for being in love with three oranges on the spot and not being able to find peace until he has them. After the sorceress disappears, the curse takes effect immediately, and an insatiable longing for the three oranges seizes the prince. He rebels against his father, who does not want the prince to go looking for the oranges. In the end, however, the king accepts his son's wish and lets him go with Truffaldino, fearing that the son might otherwise fall back into his sadness. Farfarello, a devil, appears and immediately blows the two in the direction of Kreonta's palace.

Third act

The magician Tschelio conjures up the devil Farfarello with grand gestures in a long scene. He finally appears and explains to Tschelio when asked that he had blown Truffaldino and the prince in the direction of Kreonta's palace, but in between didn't feel like it anymore and let her fall. Tschelio forbids Farfarello to blow the two to Kreonta, but this does not bother him. With the reference to the lost card game, he mocks Tschelio and disappears. Tschelio meets the Prince and Truffaldino. He explains to the two that the oranges are stored in the kitchen of Kreonta's palace. These would be guarded there by the terrible cook. The prince doesn't let that stop him, but Truffaldino listens to Tschelio and receives a ribbon from him that might distract the cook. Farfarello reappears and blows the two adventurers to Kreonta's palace with his bellows. Once there, they move into the kitchen and are promptly caught by the terrible cook, who kills every stranger with a huge soup spoon. Truffaldino attracts the cook's attention while the prince steals the three oranges from the kitchen. Truffaldino benefits from the ribbon that Tschelio gave him, because the cook is delighted with it. During an overnight stay on the way home, Truffaldino gets thirsty and opens the first of the human-sized oranges with his sword, from which Princess Linetta jumps. She begs Truffaldino to give her something to drink immediately, otherwise she will die of thirst. Truffaldino then opens the second orange and Princess Nicoletta hops out of it, who also asks for a drink. Since Truffaldino cannot help in the desert, arid area, the two girls die of thirst. Before the prince wakes up, Truffaldino takes flight. When the prince wakes up, he first discovers the two corpses of the princesses. Soldiers appear out of nowhere, whom he instructs to take the bodies with them and bury them. Then he is happy to be alone with the remaining orange and opens it. Princess Ninetta appears, with whom the prince falls in love immediately. She too begs the prince to give her something to drink. With no water to be found in the middle of the desert, the prince is in despair. But shortly before Ninetta dies of thirst, the choir intervenes and decides that the opera cannot go on like this. He organizes a bucket of water and hands it to Ninetta, who then regains her strength. Before the happy couple set off for their father's castle, Princess Ninetta asks the prince to find appropriate clothing for her. When the prince is gone, Fata Morgana intervenes again and turns the princess into a rat. When the prince appears with the king and his court company, Smeraldina is waiting for the prince to return instead of Ninetta. This recognizes the deception, but has to bow to the father and promises Smeraldina, who pretends to be Ninetta, to take her to wife.

Fourth act

Tschelio and Fata Morgana meet one last time. They abuse themselves wildly and mirage threatens to get the upper hand again. Here the choir intervenes again and manages to lock Fata Morgana in a tower. The court society then enters the throne room. A rat is sitting on the princess's armchair. The king calls the guards and orders the rat to be shot. The magician Tschelio appears and does magic for the first time, not in vain. He orders the rat to transform into the princess. Satisfied, he disappears into steam and fog. The prince falls into Ninetta's arms. The king recognizes the game and immediately wants to let Smeraldina down, as well as Leander and Clarisse, whom he unmasked as the masterminds. Despite the choir's requests, he remains tough and does not allow himself to be softened to show mercy. The three then try to flee and are pursued by the court society. The mirage that escaped from the tower escapes with the three of them in a suddenly opening hole in the depths. The court society ends the opera with cheers for the king, the prince and the princess.


Sergei Prokofiev went to the USA in 1918 , where he received an opera commission from the Chicago Opera Company the following year . The premiere took place there on December 30, 1921 in a French translation created by the composer and Véra Janocopulos.


The opera belongs to Prokofiev's “foreign” creative period, with a colorful style mixed with impressionistic features, in which, in addition to tone painting elements, above all wit and irony play a prominent role. Prokofiev puts the fantastically irrational world of fairy tales with its sometimes subtle, sometimes bizarre-grotesque comedy into the sound with inexhaustible inventiveness and impressive technical ability. The musical color effects are mainly achieved through differentiated instrumentation . A dramatic style of declamation prevails, subtly underlined by the orchestra , whereby the individual scenes are not only musically coordinated with a certain basic color, but also have a closed structure corresponding to the poetic model in formal terms. Individual topics, such as B. the theme of the three oranges or the king's march, are treated like a leitmotif .

The most famous fragment of the opera is the march from the second act. Prokofiev quotes him in his ballet Cinderella , when Cinderella, as an unknown princess, gives his sisters oranges to refresh them at the ball. He inspired John Williams to "March the Ewoks" from the score for Return of the Jedi .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Patrick Zeilhofer : The Superman from Boston: A portrait of the film composer and conductor John Williams. Bayerischer Rundfunk, November 3, 1990
  2. Christoph Irrgeher: John Williams: The sonorous side of power. In: Wiener Zeitung. January 15, 2020, accessed March 25, 2020 .