Opera Philadelphia

The Love for Three Oranges


Four groups of impatient theatre fans argue over the kind of show they want to see – tragedy, comedy, romance, or farce. A fifth group of spectators, the Eccentrics, interrupts them to announce the performance of the main event: “The Love for Three Oranges.”



The Prince has hypochondria. A chorus of doctors tells the beleaguered King of Clubs about his son’s imaginary sickness, which includes a deep depression that keeps him from laughing. The King asks his jester Truffaldino to organize a party to cheer up the Prince. In the underworld, the evil witch Fata Morgana beats the noble magician Chelio three times in a card game, robbing him of his powers to protect the King. Meanwhile, the King’s niece Clarissa and the scheming prime minister Leander conspire to kill the Prince and take over the throne. Fata Morgana’s servant Smeraldina joins their plot and explains that with Fata Morgana around at Truffaldino’s party, the Prince will never laugh, thereby prolonging his sickness.



Truffaldino drags the Prince to the party, but he refuses to laugh at the bizarre performances. When Truffaldino notices Fata Morgana there and tries to throw her out, she stumbles and falls on the ground. Suddenly, the Prince starts to laugh at her mishap, and soon everybody is cracking up. Fata Morgana is so furious that she curses the Prince, making him fall obsessively in love with three oranges. The King begs him to stay and look after the kingdom, but the Prince instead sets out with Truffaldino on a quest to find his beloved fruit.



A demon named Farfarello blows the Prince and Truffaldino all the way to the hiding place of the oranges: the castle of Creonta, a giant sorceress and cook. At the castle, the Prince and Truffaldino distract Creonta with a ribbon from Chelio and steal the three oranges. As the two wander back through the desert, the Prince falls asleep and a thirsty Truffaldino opens two of the now-humongous oranges, disobeying Chelio’s directions not to open them unless there is water nearby. Inside each one is a princess who dies of thirst right away; Truffaldino runs off in terror. The Prince wakes up and finds the princess Ninetta inside the third orange, and they profess their love for each other. The Eccentrics in the audience prevent another tragedy by sending over a bucket of water to the Prince, and he saves Ninetta from her own deadly thirst. The second the Prince leaves to get Ninetta new clothes from the royal castle, however, Smeraldina attacks Ninetta and turns her into a rat. When the Prince returns to introduce his love to the court, he is horrified to find Smeraldina in her place, but the King insists that the Prince honor his word and marry her.



Chelio confronts Fata Morgana about her schemes, and the Eccentrics break the fourth wall again to trap her, clearing Chelio a path to save the day. The Prince’s impending marriage to Smeraldina is upended when Ninetta, now a giant rat, appears on the Princess’ throne. Luckily, Chelio swoops in and returns Ninetta to her human form. The King, suddenly understanding the plot against him, sentences Smeraldina, Clarissa, and Leander to death – but out of nowhere, Fata Morgana appears and helps the traitors escape.  After a collective shrug, the royal court celebrates the newly reunited Prince and Princess.

MapAcademy of Music

Dates are Sept. 2019.

Fri, Sep 20 8:00 p.m.
Sun, Sep 22 2:00 p.m.
Fri, Sep 27 8:00 p.m.
Sun, Sep 29 2:00 p.m.

The running time is approximately 2 hours and 6 minutes including one 20-minute intermission.

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