Major Operas | The Love for Three Oranges by Sergei Prokofiev | Modern Era

Composed: 1919
Premiered: 1921, Chicago
Libretto by the composer, after Carlo Gozzi’s L’amore delle tre melarance


Factions in the audience demand Tragedy, Romance, Comedy and Farce. The Cranks take control.

Act I

The prince is ill. If he dies, the heir to the King of Clubs would be Clarice. This must be avoided. It has been prophesied that he will be cured by laughter. Clarice has promised to marry Leander, the prime minister, who plots against Truffaldino’s attempts to amuse the prince. Leander is helped by the evil Fata Morgana and her sidekick Smeraldina.

Act II

Truffaldino makes the prince attend the entertainments. Nothing offered raises a smile until Truffaldino collides with Fata Morgana. The sight of her waving her legs in the air makes the prince erupt with laughter. She curses him. He will be obsessed with a search for three oranges. He sets out with Truffaldino.


Celio, the king’s sorcerer, tells them that the oranges are in the kitchen of the enormous, ferocious cook Creonta, who has a weakness for ribbons. He gives Truffaldino a magic ribbon and warns that the oranges should only be cut open near water. Creonta captures Truffaldino and is entranced by the ribbon.

The prince rescues the oranges. On their way home they cross the desert. The oranges have grown enormously. Exhausted and thirsty, Truffaldino opens an orange. Inside there is a princess dying of thirst He opens the next. Both princesses die. The Prince opens the third. The Cranks intervene to save the princess, Ninetta. Fata Morgana turns her into a white rat and Smeraldina takes her place.

Act IV

The Cranks abduct Fata Morgana. The rat is found on the princess’s throne. Celio somehow changes it back into Ninetta. The traitors are condemned, but escape.

Personalities | Sergei Prokofiev | Modern Era | Opera


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