Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"The Love of Three Oranges" - January 2009

A couple of months back Bluedog made a post about attracting people to opera, and what more could be done to get opera novices through the door. We challenged him to find us something to go to, bearing in mind the rather hefty price tickets for Scottish Opera. He took us up on our challenge this weekend, and sent us along to RSAMD/Scottish Opera's production of Prokofiev's The Love of Three Oranges. And it was in French, with singing and supertitles. Now it's taken a lot of fast talking to get Statler to even try out musicals, and the thought of a production full of singing in a foreign language wasn't exactly filling him with joy. However we suprisingly both quite enjoyed our evening.

The story was completely absurd, and when I first read the synopsis in the programme I was completely lost by the third scene. However seeing it acted (sung) out over the course of 2 hours it did actually make much more sense. Well as much sense as a story involving a Prince falling in love with a girl who emerges from an orange (or in this case a Warhol-esque tin of Orange soup), could ever hope to make. The costumes and set design were extravagent and stylishly surreal with the "Empty Heads", rotating portraits, a villain dressed as a cactus and nice use of projection all adding to the spectacle. A special mention must go to "The Eccentrics", who not only provided amusement on stage, but also caused much mayhem during the interval.

What about the music? Well to be honest we're not best placed to judge (when has that ever stopped us before?). The cast was made up of a mix of levels of RSAMD students and visitors from the Rostov State Conservertoire, and a large number of RSAMD students were interspersed amongst the 'regular' Scottish Opera Orchestra and everything sounded fine to our inexperienced ears. The highly catchy March that makes an appearance at various points has earwormed us both, although for me it usually degenerates into Toreador March from Carmen and for Statler the Imperial March from Star Wars when any attempt is made to hum it. For a more informed opinion you're better reading Bluedog's views on it - he did get us into this in the first place.

Watching with supertitles wasn't a huge inconvenience, as there was plenty of time to read whilst the lines were being sung, although given our seating position I did feel like I was at a tennis match by the end. I also do know a little French so was able to fill in some of the gaps that the supertitles missed. Especially when Princess Ninette's place is stolen by the evil Smeraldine and the Prince expresses his horror at being made to marry the green-faced (remember the cactus we mentioned up there) substitute for his true love. A bit of Googling when I came home confirmed I did hear what I thought I had - the prince being horrified at being made to fulfil his promise to 'une negresse'. I'm probably making far too much of this, but I'm not sure whether I'm more irritated by the line being uncensored on stage or by its ommission from the supertitles, leaving a large number of the audience laughing along with an undeniably comic moment, but oblivious of its darker overtones.

Overall it was an enjoyable night, and we're glad we went along. Given the numbers involved and the obvious time and effort spent the evening was undeniably value for money at £20 a ticket. I'd definitely give more than a passing consideration to an RSAMD opera production again for the experience and undeniably clever staging - it's very much an 'event'. However I still can't persuade myself to pay the money for a ticket to a full Scottish Opera production.

The Love of Three Oranges moves to Edinburgh for two performances at the Festival Theatre (28 and 31 January).

3 Heckles

Statler said...

I'm glad Bluedog encouraged us to widen our horizons and I really did quite enjoy the evening. But part of me can't forgive the extravagance of the piece with a cast of almost 50 (plus orchestra) when our usual theatrical (or even musical) productions - even the grander ones - would have made do with 20 or less. And with so many talented and creative people I keep thinking what a fantastic contribution they could be making to 'my kind of show' instead.

Rachael said...

As a student of the RSAMD, I'm very glad that you enjoyed the show! Thanks very much for coming to see it and taking the time to review it, it's great to hear all your views.
Also, I felt I just had to reply to Statler's comment to reassure him that, in fact, all these creative and talented people at the RSAMD do put on many of 'his kind of shows' throughout the year in addition to the opera productions. It would be interesting to see what you both thought of one of our other productions sometime...!

Statler said...

Hi Rachael, thanks for your comment. We have made it along to a few RSAMD drama productions in the past but often by the time we find out about them it is too late to fit them in to our plans. But yes, we will need to make a bit more of an effort this year,