The Love For Three Oranges was a relatively new discovery for me, though I knew of it for ages without getting round to it. It is a lot of fun as an opera and of many operas I've heard and seen a unique one at that, full of exciting music and a bizarre but very interesting story. This was the second of two productions I have seen of The Love for Three Oranges, the other being the wonderful 1989 production with Gabriel Bacquier and Michele Lagrange. Of that and this, it's difficult to say which I prefer of the two, because both were so entertaining and well sung. But I can imagine those who don't care for minimalist staging will prefer this one, and I can understand. Don't get me wrong I loved everything about the 1989 production and the minimalism didn't spoil it at all for me, but I do feel that this production is much more of the bizarre extravaganza as you'd envision hearing the opera for the first time. The costume and set designs are just gorgeous to watch, I love the vivid colours and some of the designs themselves are wonderfully strange. The staging has some delicious slapstick as well as foreboding moments, and what was also impressive was its mix of fantasy, nightmares, romance and satire, which you find plenty of each in the opera itself as well. The orchestral playing bring out the rhythmically exciting orchestration of the score superbly, and Bernard Haitink conducts with a sure hand, noble tempos and a fine sense of musical line. The performances are not to be faulted, the best being Ryland Davies' instantly appealing and beautifully sung Prince, Willard White's powerfully dignified father figure and Nelly Morpurgo's chilling Fata Morgana, though the intelligent Ninnette of Collette Alliot-Lugaz, the sympathetic Trouffaldino of Ugo Benelli and the scheming Leandro of John Pringle are standouts as well. In conclusion, on equal with the 1989 performance in terms of entertainment value, and will probably appeal to traditionalists more. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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