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The Love for Three Oranges


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The Love for Three Oranges

Composer: Sergei Prokofiev

Opera in 4 acts with a prologue
Libretto by Sergei Prokofiev, based on a fairytale by Carlo Gozzi

World premiere: Lyric Opera of Chicago, 30 December 1921
Polish premiere: Krakow Opera, 25 April 2014

Production team:

Director and costume designer: Michał Znaniecki
Music director: Tomasz Tokarczyk
Set designer: Luigi Scoglio
Choreographer: Katarzyna Aleksander-Kmieć
Chorus Leader: Zygmunt Magiera
Lighting and projections designer: Bogumił Palewicz

Assistant director: Zofia Dowjat
Director’s assistant: Dagmar Bilińska
Orchestra preparation and coordinator: Paweł Szczepański
Music director’s assistant: Grzegorz Brajner
Set designer’s assistants: Agata Nowak, Sylwia Bobeł
Assistant costume designer: Joanna Medyńska
Choreographer’s assistant: Elena Korpusenko
Chorus master’s assistant: Joanna Wójtowicz
Stage managers: Justyna Jarocka-Lejzak, Magdalena Wąsowska
Prompters: Dorota Sawka, Krystyna Behounek
Soloists’ coaches: Kristina Kutnik, Joanna Steczek, Olha Tsymbalyuk
Ballet accompanist: Ludmiła Tułacz
Chorus accompanist: Wioletta Fluda



When son of the King of Clubs is struck by melancholy, laughter seems to be the only remedy. Despite various courtly conspiracies and power games, the Prince  is freed from his malady and sets out on a quest to find love, entrapped magically in three oranges. Basing his opera on a fairytale by Carlo Gozzi, Prokofiev depicted the world of magic and witchcraft with considerable distance. He created a multilayer work, balancing between surrealistic farce, grotesque humour, and parody. Combining vivid action with a meticulously woven fabric of orchestral music, he showed extraordinary inventiveness and his own unique style. 

Michał Znaniecki places the action in a Moscow home for the elderly. As the television set breaks down, the doctors decide to perform the fairy story of 'The Love for Three Oranges'. Charmingly absurd, the tale turns into a metaphor-packed political satire.

'The Love for Three Oranges' premiered in 1921 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The present production is its first appearance in the repertory of Polish musical theatres. with a cast of superb singers, such as Wojciech Gierlach and Wojciech Śmiłek, well known to the audiences of Europe's top opera companies.



Before the curtain, Advocates of lyric drama, tragedy, and comedy are engaged in an increasingly heated argument as each group wishes to show their favourite form. They are separated by the Ridicules who invite everyone to see the play The Love for Three Oranges. The herald announces the start of the performance: The King of Clubs is desperate because his son is suffering from hypochondria.

Act One

The King of Clubs and Pantalone listen to the doctor’s proclamation of the Prince’s hopeless medical condition. The old monarch is worried about the future of his kingdom, which may fall into the hands of the cruel Princess Clarice. He suddenly remembers an ancient diagnosis according to which only laughter can cure the Prince. Pantalone proposes to provide him with entertainment and summons Truffaldino, the jester who can make anyone laugh, while the King sends for his prime minister, Leandro, to proclaim a time of games and festivities throughout the kingdom. Leandro, a secret supporter of the King of Spades, tries to dissuade the King of Clubs from following this idea, but the monarch insists. 

The world of kabala. Tchelio and Fata Morgana are playing a game of cards. The magician loses, and the witch is triumphant. The Ridicules are worried about the King of Clubs and the Prince, whose fortunes are the object of the game.

The Royal Court. Princess Clarice hopes that the Prince will die and then she will ascend to the throne and marry Leandro. The latter assures her that he has been feeding the Prince with boring poetry and the saddest possible tragedies. Clarice urges him to use a weapon or poison instead. The witch’s servant Smeraldina, who has been eavesdropping on them, assures them that Fata Morgana, her principal, wishes to help them. 

Act Two

Truffaldino tries to entertain the Crown Prince, but to no avail, although his pranks during the parties that he has been running and the monsters that he has been showing have made the guests laugh. The sad Prince asks to be carried to bed. Truffaldino notices Fata Morgana and tries to chase her away; in the scuffle that follows, the witch falls down to the floor, which makes the Prince laugh. Fata Morgana curses the Prince: he will fall in love with three oranges, which he will obsessively look for in spite of all obstacles. Contrary to the King’s prohibition, the Prince embarks on a quest to find the three oranges. He takes Truffaldino with him.

Act Three

The desert. The demon Farfarello informs Tchelio that the Prince and Truffaldino are approaching the castle of the witch Creonte. Tchelio would like to help them but he cannot do anything because he has lost the card game to Fata Morgana. The Prince, still in love, knows that the oranges are in Creonte’s castle, guarded by the menacing Cook, but the valiant youth is unafraid. Tchelio, who has not managed to stop him, gives him a magic ribbon, with a warning that the oranges can be opened only near water.

Creonte’s castle. The Prince and Truffaldino have been brought here by a gale stirred up by Farfarello. The Cook wants to do away with them. Truffaldino begins to court her, and when he gives her the magic ribbon, the Cook faints with delight. The jester and the Prince find the three oranges and set out on their way back home. 

The desert. The Prince and Truffaldino are exhausted because the oranges that they have been carrying have grown enormously. The Prince falls asleep. Feeling thirsty, Truffaldino decides to open one of the oranges. Out comes a beautiful princess, named Linette, and begs for a drink of water. To oblige her, Truffaldino opens another orange, but instead of juice, he releases another princess, Nicolette, who also asks for water. Both fairy princesses die of thirst. Terrified, Truffaldino runs away. The Prince wakes up and sees only one orange left. He opens it and finds the beautiful Ninette. Struck by love, he falls to her feet but Ninette is so thirsty that she faints. She is saved from death by the Ridicules, who provide water. The Prince wants to take her to his castle but Ninette asks him to fetch appropriate garments for her first. To oblige her wish, the Prince leaves, and the fairy princess falls asleep. Fata Morgana and Smeraldina come and pierce Ninette with a magic pin which turns her into a mouse. When the King arrives with his courtiers, the Prince wants to show his love to his father, but instead of her he finds Smeraldina, who claims he has promised to marry her. The Prince protests but the King orders him to keep his word. ‘The orange has gone bad,’ Leandro comments on the situation.

Act Four

Tchelio argues with Fata Morgana, who is certain of her victory. The Ridicules snatch her away and now the magician will be able to help his favourites. The wedding of the Prince and Smeraldina. Leandro is triumphant but then a mouse is seen seated on the throne instead of the bride. Tchelio lifts the spell cast by Fata Morgana and restores Ninette to her human form. Acquainted with the true state of affairs, the King orders Clarice, Leandro and Smeraldina to be hanged, but Fata Morgana, who has managed to break free, takes them away. Thus, nothing will spoil the wedding party.

Based on: Jacek Marczyński, Przewodnik operowy,
Warszawa: Świat Książki, 2011