Prokofiev: The Love for Three Oranges

COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Arthaus
ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev
WORKS: The Love for Three Oranges
PERFORMER: Bacquier, Viala, Lagrange; Opera National de Lyon Chorus & Orchestra/Kent Nagano; dir. Louis Erlo (Lyon, 1989)
This 1989 recording is a prime example of how not to film an opera. By all accounts the Lyon production was an event to behold and the Virgin recording made at the same time has been highly acclaimed. But the decision to have the cast mime to a pre-recorded soundtrack sets up all sorts of problems. This approach sometimes works when the intent is less naturalistic or more obviously filmic, but here we have to put up with an uncomfortable lack of cohesion between sound and vision. And I don’t just mean the dubbing, which is on the whole pretty accurate. But given the sonic precision on DVD, movement on stage bears no relation to the stereo recording, so the Prince might be twirled round on a trolley while his singing doesn’t budge from the foreground. Clunky sound effects, such as footsteps, have been welded on, while the camerawork itself is often shaky. Still, sound effects apart, this DVD can be enjoyed for the music-making alone, with Nagano conducting a truly ensemble-like cast. Matthew Rye