Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Rachel Portman - The Little Prince / Rhodes Garrett Randle White McManners Carlin Jones Zambello Abell BBC Concert Opera|
Actors: Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Joseph McManners, Mairead Carlin, Willard White, Lesley Garrett
Director: Francesca Zambello
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
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A delightful opera for children of all ages
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 04/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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, who is more known for her film scores (she was awarded an Oscar for "Emma"), and a libretto by Nicholas Wright.
The talent is remarkable, with Joseph McManners astounding as the Little Prince; he has an angelic look, a perfect voice, and most unusual is his enunciation, which is so clear and understandable...one does not miss a single word he is singing.
There are a total of 40 children in this opera (chosen out of the 25,000 that auditioned), and they were trained in all the necessary skills at the Sadler's Wells over the course of a summer, to prepare for their parts.
Others in the cast of note that are excellent are Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the Pilot, Sir Willard Wite as the King, Lesley Garrett as the Fox, and Tom Handle as the Snake, and bravo to all those involved in the production, especially director Francesca Zambello, and Maria Bjornson's for her colorful, whimsical sets and costumes.
The opera premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in May of 2003, and this is a BBC production that has been shown on PBS stations in the US.
There is charm, humor, and artistry to delight the entire family in this musical treat; I would imagine children would like to watch it repeatedly, while the film will also manage to entertain their parents.
Imaginative and uplifting, it is approximately 90 minutes long, and in McManners, showcases a youngster that will surely be a future star.
Glorious!!! An Astonishing Achievement!
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 04/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Words failed me watching this "children's opera." This is an inspired and astoundingly profound work - not necessarily just for children. Faithfully based on the classic French children's tale, Rachel Portman has crafted what feels - and sounds - like a dream come to life.
Musically, the score is firmly based in mid to late 20th century "classical" music (indeed, portions sound as though they could have been penned by Benjamin Britten), yet remain highly accessible to the casual listener. Portman's score is clear and concise emphasizing the text through the narratives which link the various scenes together. This leaves one unprepared for the experience of being hit full on with some truly remarkable choral music that creates the aural illusion of expanding into space - a truly remarkable experience
While the opera sounds and feels good - delightful even - all the way through, its final 20-30 minutes - beginning with the Pilot's carrying the Prince through the night in the desert in search of a well - have magic writ on every page. One cannot help but feel the influence of Janacek and the "nature" music of his operas.
The cast is inspired with Australian baritone Teddy Tahu-Rhodes as the Pilot in an ever blooming voice that captures the tale's narrative with a wistful, dreamlike quality. He is, in a single word: sensational.
As the Prince, Joseph McManners escapes the cloying saccharine too easily on display in talented children - his unaffected, natural ease made me assume the role had been written for him. Like Saint-Exupery's "Petit Prince" McManners understands this role and the music and like Saint-Exupery's original "Petit Prince" exudes a sweet mixture of melancholy, naivete and wisdom that makes this character so special.
Leslie Garrett, the inestimable Willard White, Tom Randle and Tom Robinson (with exquisite music as the Lamplighter) all contribute beautifully and fit into Francesca Zambello's unique vision of this most beautiful of children's stories.
A most remarkable work that should be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
A 5 Star Production, but ....not a 5 star opera.
RENS | Dover, NH USA | 04/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I wanted ever so much to fall in love with this opera and this production, since I have always felt a close attachment to Saint-Exupery and "The Little Prince." Well, it didn't altogether turn out that way. Zambello's production is magnificent. She is a genius of the stage (see her "War and Peace" by Prokofiev, for instance). Teddy Tahu Rhodes (The Pilot) is astonishing: why haven't we heard more of him? His singing and acting are superb. I find that his presence carries the show. Young Joseph McManners offers us a sensitive, finely-tuned protrayal of The Prince. The rest of the cast are fine. So what's my problem? I find myself unmoved by the music. It is professionally well written, smooth, easy to listen to, but not memorable. For instance, I do not hear the echoes of Britten that an earlier reviewer heard. I also found the chorus somehow "untamed" and often difficult to understand. Oddly, I kept wishing for subtitles in English. Or at least the option of Closed Captions.
And now for the great irony: when I bought this DVD I also bought the DVD of the 1974 film of "The Little Prince." The presenation is rather that of an American musical. I love it! Yes, the lyrics and music of Lerner and Loewe do not terribly impress me, just as Portman's music leaves me underwhelmed. But to my surprise and delight, everything else works: Richard Kiley is absolutely convincing as The Pilot. His acting is first rate, he sings very well indeed, and he is perhaps even more physically present and impressive than Rhodes. Stephen Warner somehow speaks to me as The Little Prince, Saint-Exupery's Little Prince himself, incarnate in his every word and movement, and in the costuming as well. Gene Wilder brilliantly zips about as a hper-active and most loveable fox. The great Bob Fosse, at the height of his career, dances a shifty, jazzy snake, even if the length of the dance is a bit self-indulgent. All in all, if one likes or loves Portman's opera, I suggest that one is bound to like or love Stanley Donen's film as well, perhaps even more. Happy the child of whatever age who has both of these versions of "The Little Prince" available to watch over and over again - but I think I'll be watching Donen's film rather more often."
Not just for children
S. A. LEWIS | Prairie Village KS | 07/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"About an hour into this opera, I asked myself, "Where in the operas of the past three quarters of a century (since Puccini) has there been music of such overwhelming beauty?" Well, there are some passages in "Rosenkavalier" and "Peter Grimes"--but where else? This is not to knock modern opera, for many such works succeed as great dramas, but for sheer melodic invention "The Little Prince" belongs with the best of them. Don't buy it for your kids--buy it for yourself. In fact, my one reservation is that the story could be a bit too complicated for most children. I'll ask my grandchildren when they get a bit older. But between now and then I'm sure I will watch it many times. (If anyone reading this has watched it with children, please post their impressions here)."