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And that, of course, is the pathetic requirement of the young prince (Martial Defontaine), whose endless hypochondria is attended by such a host of doctors as might serve to reopen my local NHS hospital. Their diagnosis is eminently sensible, to be recommended unreservedly to all politicians: a good dose of healthy laughter
[watch and listen -- DVD1 chapter 3, 6:10-7:42].
But that is precisely what all the resources of the court, its tumblers, its jugglers, its comics, whatever their antics, fails to produce. The prince can only groan that his headache is worse, his stomach is churning, and he just wants to be left alone. But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work.
Serghei Khomov as Trouffaldino collides with Anna Shafajinskaja's Fata Morgana in Act 2 of 'The Love of Three Oranges'. © 2006 Opus Arte
The magician Tchélio is allied to the King of Clubs, the prince's father, whereas the sinister Leander as prime minister and King of Spades has the single-minded support of Fata Morgana. It is gripping to watch these potent players being manoeuvred into position towards their aerial table as Willard White and Anna Shafajinskaja prepare to slam down their cards
[watch and listen -- DVD1 chapter 5, 16:16-17:45].
Time and again it is Morgana in finery of fiery red and false upturned nose who wins the tricks so that it seems Leander will be able to steer the King's niece Clarice towards the throne and that the prince will never be able to manage even a smile.
Copyright © 16 November 2006
Robert Anderson, London UK