I came across Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's short novel "Le Petit Prince" quite late, when I inherited the teaching of this particular book from a departing teacher at the school I had just joined. I fell in love with it instantly, especially the way in which it explores the themes of wisdom, experience and innocence and how it urges us to seek the child within and not to lose sight of what really matters in life. Although it is on the face of it a fairy tale, it has a message for us all and, with its range of larger than life characters, would surely translate successfully into a workable opera or, at least, a musical.
The BBC television production of 2004 came, therefore, as no real surprise and it was with some anticipation that I tuned in. Would it work as an opera, albeit one ostensibly for children? In reply, I can only offer a guarded "yes", even though I liked it well enough to buy a copy of the DVD years later, albeit at a bargain price.
I like Francesca Zambello's production, but although Rachel Portman's music is pleasant enough, it neither has the emotional depth of a "proper" operatic score, nor does it really hit the heights of a top musical. This is a pity, as some of our best opera singers embody Saint-Exupéry's grotesque adult characters. Especially memorable are Tom Randle's Snake, Willard White's King, Timothy Robinson's Lamplighter and Richard Suart's Businessman. Leslie Garrett, who I would suggest is an underrated performer, does well as the Fox, but I would have allocated the part to a different voice type. Joseph McManners is a convincing Prince, but while Teddy Tahu Rhodes fields an engaging presence and a robust baritone as the Pilot, his diction is not as clear as some of the other singers.
Obviously, this cannot compare with the book (I love the author's illustrations), but I suspect that it is preferable to the film version featuring Bob Fosse and Gene Wider and I would certainly recommend giving it a try. Try to pick it up cheaply, however!
on 31 October 2009
Unlike the previous reviewer I thought it was obvious that this is the excellent opera by Rachel Portman. Often shown as extracts on O Music.
Strong performances by well known singers wuch as Lesley Garrett, Willard White and Richard Suart led by moving portayals of the Pilot by Teddy Tahu Rhodes and The Little Prince by Joseph McManners.
Based on Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "Le Petit Prince", this is a remarkable staged version of the beautiful story, with music by Rachel Portman with a libretto by Nicholas Wright.The opera premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in May of 2003, and this BBC production has often been shown on PBS stations in the US.
on 21 December 2015
Not quite sure what prompted me to get this. What I do know is I love the engaging tuneful fun of it all. It is an opera and it's my favourite. The leads including two children are a pure delight. The singing catches me every time. The finale has a lovely warmth and sweetness that both myself and my children have enjoyed repeatedly. And that's something I would emphasise, this is music and words that are timeless given the chance.
on 18 July 2009
The cover of the dvd is totally misleading, as i thought i would be a cartoon more or less same style as the book. However it is an 'opera' style singing on stage, no chance for kids, maybe for some adults, definitely not for general public taste, a very misleading cover.