Sergei Prokofiev's comic opera The Love for Three
Oranges, Op. 33 (1919) won a place in the repertoire
only with great difficulty. First produced in 1921, the
work was greeted with rather dismal reviews and an even
worse public response. Prokofiev found a partial
solution to this problem by extracting six numbers from
the opera, revising them, and assembling them into a
six-movement concert suite in 1924.
"The Ridiculous People," adapted from the opera's
prologue, depicts the arguments between the various
characters (represented by distinct instrumental ideas)
and the ultimate subjugation of their ideas by the
forceful Ridiculous People themselves. In "Scene from
Hades," Prokofiev uses eerie instrumental effects to
represent a card game played by Fata Morgana in Hell.
The "March," made famous by dozens of arrangements (it
was a staple of violinist Jascha Heifetz's recitals),
finds the sick Prince being carried to a party
contrived to make him smile. The movement's march
rhythms are continually inflected by strident,
"wrong-note" sonorities. The remainder of the suite is
comprised of "Scherzo" (here reworked into an effective
orchestral miniature), a romantic interlude ("The
Prince and the Princess"), and "Flight," a comic romp
in which the villains are finally routed.
Although originally created for orchestra, I created
this interpretation for String Ensemble (2 Violins, 2
Violas, Cello & Bass).