From Fairy Tale to Opera in Four Moves

Richard Taruskin

in On Russian Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249790
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942806 | DOI:
From Fairy Tale to Opera in Four Moves

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The Love for Three Oranges was the only one of Sergey Prokofieff's eight operas to enjoy unqualified success and repertory status during the composer's lifetime. The opera, however, owes the credits for its title, and for the general outline of its plot, to the celebrated fiaba teatrale (fable for the theater) by Carlo Gozzi (1761). With each telling, the tale became further encrusted with theatrical artifice and literary doctrine, even as the tellers advertised naive simplicity. The end result manifested 250 years down the line, in a composition written by a Russian for performance in Chicago, in French. The core of the composition retained the original foretaste of the ban on all pathos that would dominate European art between the world wars in the name of a re-imagined “eighteenth century.” This was the one time that Prokofieff shone ahead of his time.

Keywords: Three Oranges; eighteenth century; pathos; European art; Prokofieff; Carlo Gozzi

Chapter.  4114 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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