Classical Music | Piano Music

Sergei Prokofiev

March from the opera "Love to the three oranges"  Play

Elena Kuschnerova Piano

Recorded on 01/10/1997, uploaded on 02/14/2010

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Much to his own chagrin, Sergei Prokofiev suffered from bad luck in his attempts to mount a successful operatic production. His first opera, The Gambler, based on the novel of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, was already in rehearsals in 1917 when production problems and the Bolshevik Revolution forced the cancellation of its premiere. Undeterred, however, Prokofiev was already looking for a suitable story for his next opera. And he found just such inspiration in The Love for Three Oranges, a play by Carlo Gozzi in the Commedia dell’Arte tradition.

Prokofiev drafted a libretto for the new opera as he traveled to America for his first tour of the United States. With successful performances of his First Symphony in Chicago in 1918, Prokofiev tried at first to pitch The Gambler to the director of the Chicago Opera Association, Cleofonte Campanini. Campanini rejected Prokofiev’s offer, but showed interest the composer’s idea for a new opera. And so, Prokofiev set to work right away, and, at his usual prolific rate of composition, completed The Love for Three Oranges in October of that year.

On December 30, 1921, the opera premiered in Chicago under the composer’s baton. However, its initial reception, on the whole, was icy at best. Criticisms were harsh and much the opera’s slapstick humor was lost on its audience.  Productions followed in New York, Cologne, Berlin, and Leningrad, but none failed to create any substantial success. In fact, it was off the stage that the music of The Love for the Three Oranges found its greatest success. The suite adapted from the opera became quite popular, and the March, likely the most well-known number, became the theme music for a popular CBS radio program called The FBI in Peace and War, which ran from 1944-58. This ultimately led to renewed interest in the opera itself and a production by the New York City Opera in 1949 was wildly successful. The production was featured in Life magazine and subsequently went on tour. Since then, it has become Prokofiev’s best-known opera and is part of the standard repertoire of many opera companies.     Joseph DuBose

From Elena Kuschnerova's Prokofiev CD (Romeo & Juliet, Sonata No.2, March), released on "Ars Musici" in Germany, 1997