On 14, 15, 25 and 31 March the Mariinsky Theatre is staging a new production of Sergey Prokofiev's opera The Love for Three Oranges. The production team includes Valery Gergiev (Musical Director and Conductor), Alain Maratrat (Stage Director), Daniela Villaret (Set Designer), Mireille Dessingy (Costume Designer), Pascal Merat (Lighting Designer), Gregoria Recio (Hat Maker), Larisa Gergieva (Musical Preparation) and Andrei Petrenko (Principal Chorus Master).
Valery Gergiev will be conducting on 14 and 15 March.
The world premiere of Prokofiev's opera The Love for Three Oranges took place in Chicago in 1921. In 1926 the Mariinsky Theatre (then the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet) became the first theatre in Soviet Russia to stage the opera. The 1926 Soviet premiere was staged by a somewhat radical team – director Sergey Radlov, a pupil of Vsevolod Meyerhold, designer Vladimir Dmitriev, one of the most popular theatre artists of the age, choreographer Vasily Vainonen and conductor Vladimir Dranishnikov.
Prokofiev, who attended the premiere, wrote of the Soviet production to Eskuzovich, Director of the Theatres of the RSFRS: "Not only was it the best production of all that I have seen so far, it was so much better that the others seem like distant provinces in comparison : all this was achieved thanks to the splendid performing skills that the Academic Opera has achieved, its exemplary soloists, chorus, orchestra and technical staff and thanks to the exceptional talents of the staging team – Dranishnikov, Radlov and Dmitriev."
After a long break the opera was restored to the theatre's repertoire in 1991 to mark one century since the birth of Prokofiev on the initiative of Valery Gergiev. The production was directed by Alexander Petrov.
Alain Maratrat, the director of the new production, achieved fame in Russia with his brilliant rendition of Il viaggio a Reims – possibly the best Mariinsky Theatre opera production of recent years. The production was named best opera of the 2004-2005 season at the Golden Mask festival, with Maratrat's efforts receiving the award for "Best directing in opera".
Among those rehearsing the opera are Mariinsky Theatre soloists Gennady Bezzubenkov, Alexander Morozov, Grigory Karasyov, Andrei Spekhov, Vadim Kravets and Liya Shevtsova as well as soloists of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers such as Andrei Ilyushnikov, Sergey Semishkur, Elena Sommer, Yekaterina Shimanovich, Kristina Kapustinskaya, Karina Chepurnova, Eduard Tsanga, Pavel Shmulevich, Anastasia Kalagina, Oxana Krupnova, Nadezhda Serdyuk, Natalia Yevstafieva, Vladimir Tyulpanov, Alexei Safiulin, Ilya Bannik, Andrei Popov, Anna Kiknadze, Alexander Gerasimov and Vladislav Uspensky.
The production team includes renowned hat maker Gregoria Recio from France, who has worked alongside such couturiers as Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix.
Over two hundred costumes have been created for the production.
Alain Maratrat on the premiere:
"The Love for Three Oranges is first and foremost a story, a tale about today's times. It is the story of a prince who opens his eyes one day and sees that the real world doesn't match his concept of that world, something not uncommon among young people. The prince is overpowered by hypochondria. He is looking for his way in the world and finds it with the help of true love.
"This story has to be told so that everyone in the audience feels it, and this task dictated decisions as to design – the action takes place very close to the audience. We are working on the premiere with young performers – soloists from the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers. They are very energetic, they have the necessary drive. Together with the charisma of Maestro Gergiev, who can get 'inside the music' like no-one else, their fire and energy will imbue the opera with a unique spirit."