Summary Sergey Sergeevich Prokofiev. Love for Three Oranges


Opera in four acts (ten scenes) with a prologue

Libretto by S. Prokofiev (by K. Gozzi)


King Tref

Prince, his son

Princess Clarice

Leander, First Minister

Truffaldino, a man who can laugh

Pantaloon, close to the king

Mage Celius, protects the king

Fata Morgana, patronizes Leandro













Princess in oranges


Mezzo soprano



Farfarello, devil

Smeraldin, the Arapka



Hoarse bass






Ten oddballs, tragedians, comedians, lyricists, empty-headed, impersonators, physicians, courtiers.

The action takes place in a fictional state.


The first comic opera Prokofiev was created in 1919, during the composer’s stay abroad. But its idea is connected with the theatrical impressions of pre-revolutionary Russia, where in search of new bright forms of the play attempts were made to revive the art of the ancient Italian comedy of masks. In 1914-1915, the Sun. Meyerhold published the magazine Love of Three Oranges. Its name was borrowed from the well-known fairy tale by Carlo Gozzi (1720-1806), created in the tradition of the folk theater of masks. In the first issue of this journal K. Vogak, Vs. Meyerhold and V. Soloviev published a free stage production of this tale. The young composer was attracted by the poetry of fiction, the life-affirming basis of folk fantasy, the witty mixture of fairy tales, jokes, satires. Unusual was the stage part, combining three different action plans. The

first is fairy-tale characters: Prince, Truffaldino. The second is the underground forces, on which they depend: Magus Celius, Fata Morgana. And finally – eccentrics, commenting on the development of intrigue.

Prokofiev himself developed the libretto of the opera. Its score was completed by October 1919. The premiere took place on December 30, 1921 in Chicago. On February 18, 1926, the Leningrad Academic Opera and Ballet Theater performed the production of “Love for Three Oranges”; in 1927 – the Bolshoi Theater of the USSR in Moscow.


Representatives of various theatrical genres are fighting on goose feathers. Tragedians demand “high tragedies, philosophical decisions, world problems”; comedians crave an “invigorating, healing laughter”; lyricists dream of “romantic love, flowers, moon, tender kisses”; idiots want “farces, nonsense, ambiguous witticisms.” Ten eccentrics giant shovels rake up quarrels and announce the beginning of a “real, unmatched” performance.

The King of Clubs is in despair. His son, Crown Prince, is sick with hypochondriacal disease. Physicians consider the patient hopeless. But the King remembers the miraculous power of laughter. At the court, the beginning of merry holidays is announced.

Hot interest in the fate of the heroes are shown by wizards: the good Magician Chelius and the evil Fata Morgana. Behind the cabalistic curtain is a symbolic game of cards; Celia loses.

The King’s niece, Clarice, dreams of succeeding the throne. This is by her orders, the first minister of the kingdom, Leander, carries out a heinous betrayal, preparing the slow death of the Prince. Leander feeds the royal offspring with tragic prose, bakes malicious verses in food. Learning that the court appeared cheerful Truffaldino, Clarice requires a decisive action from Leander. In his opinion, the Prince needs opium or a bullet.

Meanwhile Truffaldino tries in vain to make the patient laugh. He does not want to hear about any entertainments. Even the comic dance of Truffaldino can not distract the heir from thoughts of disease and medications. Having lost patience, Truffaldino puts the opposing Prince on his shoulders and goes with him to the feast.

One after another followed by cheerful performances. Fighting against cudgels freaks with huge heads. Drunkards and gluttons, pushing and surpassing each other, rush to fountains with food and wine. The prince remains indifferent. Accidentally, his attention was attracted by a brawl between Truffaldino and Fata Morgana, dressed in a pathetic old woman. The Prince makes an uncertain “Ha, ha, ha!” Gradually, his laughter becomes louder, rolling, joyful. All the courtiers, looking at the Prince, tremble with frantic laughter. In anger, Fata Morgan ascends and conjures the Prince to fall in love with three oranges. Prince comes to indescribable excitement. He has a desire to immediately go in search of oranges. As a companion, he takes Truffaldino with him. The devil Farfarello, armed with furs, blows them in the back. The magician Celiy watches with excitement the realization of the prudent enterprise of the Prince. A good wizard tries in vain to intimidate him with forthcoming trials. The prince is adamant. Chelius hands him a magic bow and warns that oranges can only be opened near the water.

Overcoming fear and shyness, travelers rush to the kitchen of the evil giantess Creon. They are blocked by a formidable cook. Truffaldino manages to interest her with a magic bow, and the Prince in the meantime steals three oranges.

In the hot desert Prince and Truffaldino are exhausted from fatigue – the oranges have grown and become very heavy.

Prince falls asleep, and Truffaldino decides to eat orange juice. One by one he cuts two oranges. Of these, white girls appear, who, in the eyes of a confused amateur, die of thirst. Truffaldino runs away in horror.

The Prince wakes up. He can not wait to find out what the orange contains. A third girl comes out. She confesses to the Prince that he has long loved him and is waiting for liberation. Like her sisters, Ninetta begs to give her a drink. Geeks get cranky. They put a bucket of water on the stage. The princess is saved. The prince goes to the palace to warn the king. In the meantime, Smeraldin’s arapka with a magic pin turns the princess into a rat.

Behind the cabalistic curtain, the Magus Chelius and Fata Morgan fiercely argue about the fate of their heroes. The argument goes into a fight. It is difficult to foresee who will win in it. Again we have to intervene eccentrics. They lure Fat Morgan into the high tower and lock it. Now the Magician can help his pets.

In the throne room of the royal palace, everything is ready for betrothal. Suddenly, courtiers notice a huge rat. Celia conjures her back to become a princess Ninetta. The betrayal of Clarice, Leandra and Smeraldina’s arapka is revealed. The king decides to execute traitors. They try to escape and get into the underworld of Fat Morgan. The courtiers praise the King and the happy lovers – Prince and Princess.


“Love of Three Oranges” – one of the most cheerful and cheerful operas of the XX century. Rapid change of different and at the same time clearly outlined episodes creates a continuous stream of music, a fascinating rhythm of the play.

Ringing fanfare heralds the beginning of a cheerful performance. At the impetuous pace, the chorus of tragedians, comedians, lyricists, and empty-headed ones rushes. The same sound is comically repeated in the orchestra, calling for general attention.

Solemnly and mournfully, though not without irony, the theme of royal majesty sounds, depicting the dejected state of the ruler. A chorus of tongue twisters of busy and interrupted doctors ends with a cruel sentence: “An irresistible hypochondriacal phenomenon.” In response, the King’s groans are heard, to which Pantalone echoes. A graceful scherzo theme accompanies Truffaldino running out of the way. Secretly in the basses, Leandra’s theme wriggles, reluctantly conveying his insinuating feline habit.

The dreadful sounds of low wind instruments, like the howling of hell’s whirlwinds, open up a second picture. The deafening chords accompany the appearance of the Magician Chelia and Fata Morgana. The piercing howl of the devil strengthens the fantastic color.

In the third picture of the first act, an image of the extravagant, sharp in the movements of Clarice, giving the impatient orders to Leandro, appears. Marching rhythms permeate her accusatory speech “To act with such a phlegm”. Scared Leander, as if twitching from a nervous tic, meets her arioso “I feed him.”

The unfolded symphonic episodes determine the dynamic development of the second act. The initial dance of Truffaldino is comic. But in response there are only groans of the Prince. From afar comes a cheerful, full of indomitable energy march, which gained great fame as an independent concert number; his elastic step becomes more distinct, the impudent trumpet, the rolling roll of the drum draw the approach of the festive procession. The march as if calls for an end to whining and apathy, to turn to an effective and joyful acceptance of life.

In the second picture, the composer skillfully portrays the comedic battle scene of awkward freaks at the royal festival. On repeated repetition of the same “running up” motive an episode of universal laughter is built. The joy of the court pours out in a temperamental dance, which famously sounds in brass instruments. A sharp contrast is the Fata Morgana spell, designed to frighten the unusualness of the accords, deafening orchestral effects. From the state of enchantment, the Prince proceeds to resolute actions: in arioso “My armament” his arrogant militancy is parodied (accompanied by the rhythm of a jump). The King’s utter bewilderment is expressed by agitated cues “You raise your hand against your father.”

Mysteriously, the tremolo of the bass instruments sounds at the beginning of the third act, characterizing the magical swirl of Celia, calling Farfarello. In the rhythm of the tarantella there is a rapid flight scherzo, which precedes the second picture; colorful orchestral timbres, light, jerky sounds give the music of the prince’s adventurous campaign an imperceptibly ghostly hue.

The main place in the third picture is occupied by lyrical episodes. They conquer spirituality, subtle poetry, shading the atmosphere of jokes, cheerful eccentricities, prevailing in the opera. Lyrical episodes are associated with the emergence of princesses – “white girls” who were in oranges. Their mournful phrases “Give me to drink,” expressing plea and suffering, are becoming shorter, more abrupt, than the effect of the gradual extinction of life is achieved. An enthusiastic feeling imbued with the recognition of Prince “Princess, Princess, I’m looking for you.” An agitated, impetuous character has his aria “There were no forces to deter.”

In the fourth act, the scene of a quarrel between Celia and Fata Morgana is noted in a fantastic color. A playful tinge has a chorus of eccentrics. Orchestral episode of the pursuit of villains and toast in honor of the King and the newlyweds complete the opera.

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Summary Sergey Sergeevich Prokofiev. Love for Three Oranges