The youthful Prokofieff was a master of laughter, absurdity and colour, but nowhere more so than in his enchanting fairy-tale opera, based on the Italian writer Gozzi’s commedia dell’arte satire The Love for Three Oranges. The pantomime-like plot concerns the adventures of a young prince, cursed by a wicked witch and forced to voyage into distant lands in search of three oranges inside each of which is a princess.
In his six-movement symphonic suite, Prokofieff includes some of the loudest and most garish and comical passages of the opera including the music of the clowns, the card-game between the magician and the wicked witch, and the world-famous March. All this bustle and excitement is offset by the lyrical love-music which accompanies the prince’s meeting with the princess of the third orange.
Note by Gerard McBurney