The Love For Three Oranges By Opera Australia Is Like A Loveable Acid Trip
The first thing you notice about this season’s performance of the Russian classic by composer Sergei Prokofiev, The Love For Three Oranges, is that it is weird.
If the name alone from the 1921 classic that first saw daylight in Chicago isn’t enough to make you scratch your head, then the rendition itself will send you skyward. It’s part opera, part musical and totally and completely breathtaking.
Needless to say, costume designer Tania Noginova had her work cut-out for her, creating wildly colourful and immersive costumes that transport the entire opera to another world and inject an infectiously enjoyable element of humour to an otherwise melancholy story of love lost and heartache. Couple that with the fact director, Francesca Zambello clearly had some fun in the recreation of the piece and it makes for one wildly enjoyable opera.
From the set itself, which is a nouveau take on minimalistic use of space to the enthusiasm with which all manner of performers take such pride in the queer, left-of-centre approach to the performance they’re in, you cannot fault The Love For Three Oranges.
The story is of a prince, struck down with melancholy. In an attempt to snap him out of it, the court throws a party to make him laugh and feel what it is to be alive once more. This sets him free from his torment, but by a cruel twist of fate, he is beset with a nasty curse that ties him to fall in love with three oranges, which he unexpectedly finds in the desert… As you do.
The oranges are in fact princesses, all of whom die but one. You can imagine the outcome yourself, but peppered throughout is a refreshing amount of colour, a devastatingly queer level of campness and hilarity – exacerbated by bass-baritone Adrian Tamburini who plays a female, tormenting cook – and humour that is less oft seen in larger scale classics.
Inadvertently narrated by the life of the Prince (Rosario La Spina), elemental magick and the mystery of the days of regal forbearance, Opera Australia has again outdone itself in an opera that will make you laugh and leave you smiling.
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