For some reason, people always try to say that my play is based on the Sergei Prokofiev‘s opera, The Love for Three Oranges (1919). It isn’t. Both my Three Oranges and his are based on the same source material: Carlo Gozzi‘s The Love of Three Oranges.
For the record, I have never even seen the Prokofiev opera. Every few months I feel guilty about this and try to listen to The March from The Love for Three Oranges and only to immediately forget what it sounds like again.
But I was doing a little oranges research tonight and I thought it might be fun to trace the long reaching history of Three Oranges.
- The Three Citrons, the frame story from Giambattista Basile‘s Pentamerone is published somewhere in the neighborhood of 1635-ish. The fairy tale was hanging around verbally before that but this was the first known written version. It’s horrifyingly racist. (More on that in a future post.)
- In 1761 (126 years later), Carlo Gozzi takes the basic idea behind The Three Citrons and reworks it as The Love of Three Oranges. He changes the story around a good deal though many of the same elements from the original are there.
- Fast forward to 2002 (241 years after that) when some clown named Hillary DePiano decides to write her own version of this now thrice visited story. My play is based on Gozzi’s version of Basile’s version of a folk story that was going around.
In the same way, Prokofiev’s opera is based on Gozzi’s version of Basile’s version of a folk story that was going around.
Both Prokofiev and my version of Three Oranges are much closer to Gozzi’s then Gozzi’s was to Basile. When you consider how much Prokofiev and I differed from Gozzi, you realize just how far Gozzi went from Basile. How much did Basile change the story from the verbal tradition? We may never know.
History just keep regurgitating this story! I’m going to stop that metaphor right there before it gets disgusting. But you get the idea.
Basically, it all boils down to this: Prokofiev and I probably should hang out. Sadly, he died in 1953.
- Did you know that 2011 is the 250th anniversary of Carlo Gozzi’s The Love of Three Oranges? (hillarydepiano.com)