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''The Little Prince'' banner
Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Joseph McManners (photo by Adrian Brooks)
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Le Petit Prince
The Little Prince Opera
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (in French)
Sony Classical: Artists: Rachel Portman
Francesca Zambello - Director
Stagework: Nicholas Wright


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A CHILDREN'S OPERA
(continued)

The first person he meets is a king who reigns over a small planet and prides himself on his unmatched authority. When The Little Prince asks if he's able to order the sun to set, the King replies that of course he's able, but only "at twenty to eight." As the kindly monarch attests, he only issues orders that can be followed, so The Little Prince decides to leave him and continue his travels. Portman gives the King nobly profound music, sung just that way by Sir Willard White.

The next stop is on the planet of the kazoo-playing Vain Man. He dances and demands an audience to congratulate him on his every move. The Little Prince obliges him and learns the meaning of admiration as well as its pitfalls.

The last two interplanetary residents are a businessman and a lamplighter. The Businessman is numbingly counting a series of numbers and getting richer every second. The Little Prince inquires as to what it is he's counting, and it turns out to be stars, which the Businessman claims to own. Again The Little Prince is confused, unable to understand how anyone could own a star.

The Lamplighter is the most touching of these characters, a man stuck in a Sisyphean task of lighting and dousing the planet's streetlight each time the sun rises or sets. Since it rises every minute, he never gets to rest. But he and the boy are able to agree that it's wonderful to see a sunset so often.

Then there's The Pilot, who starts the entire story. He recalls how, when he was a boy, grown-ups never understood his drawings and dissuaded him from his artistic ambitions to pursue a career as a pilot. But when his plane crashes in the desert, it's his drawing skills that help him. The Little Prince, whom he unexpectedly comes across in the desolate wasteland, demands that he draw him a sheep, and The Pilot does his best. The two become friends before the boy has to return to his beloved Rose.

This lovely, lovingly made opera charms audiences with guileless characters and music that captures their bravery and innocence without turning sentimental. (The snake is certainly not guileless, but he's the exception.) The children's chorus, which portrays stars in the nighttime sky and the Earth's lamplighters, touches the heart -- the lamplighters especially, with their hymn to worldwide acceptance and love. That sentiment is one that never goes stale.



Top banner photos: Joseph McManners as The Little Prince and Teddy Tahu Rhodes as The Pilot with The Little Prince (all photos by Adrian Brooks).

Sir Willard White as The King with The Little Prince (photo by Adrian Brooks)

The Little Prince visits the planet of The King, played by Sir Willard White (photo by Adrian Brooks).

Mairead Carlin as The Rose (photo by Adrian Brooks)

Young soprano Mairead Carlin as The Rose (photo by Adrian Brooks).

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This program is available on DVD and as a double CD.
 
 
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