Rachel Portman: The Little Prince – children’s opera

by | Jun 2, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

The Little Prince (A Children’s Opera in Two Acts) (2004)
Based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Music by Rachel Portman
Libretto by Nicholas Wright
Directed by Francesca Zambello
Studio: BBC/Sony Classical
Video: 16:9 widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1 surround, PCM 2.0 stereo
Extras: Blue Peter Special; Music Video; Photo Gallery
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: ****

Saint-Exupery’s book “The Little Prince” deals with a stranded pilot’s
encounter with a young man who claims to be a prince from a distant
asteroid, seeking answers to many questions, while recounting his
adventures for the pilot. The book has garnered much discussion over
the decades as to whether it is indeed a simple children’s book, or
whether it’s a complicated meditation on philosophy, filled with
riddles and poetic metaphor. Through the music of Rachel Portman and
Nicholas Wright’s excellent libretto, this literary favorite has
finally made it to the stage; the video presentation here takes the
shape more along the lines of a children’s television special than that
of a concert opera film.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes is excellent as the pilot, as is Joseph McManners as
the little prince – although his boy’s soprano voice can be a bit
piercing over the long haul. I doubt, though, that many children would
complain. The costuming and staging are superb and quite imaginative,
although it would have been nice to see the staging as presented in a
live performance, versus this highly stylized video production. I think
the kids (and adults, as well) could easily use their imaginations and
still glean a great deal from the performance without all the video
wizardry and special effects.

Video and audio quality are superb; the extras, especially the “Blue
Peter” special (a documentary on making the book into an opera, and its
initial staging), are entertaining as well. Highly recommended, for
adults and children alike.

— Tom Gibbs



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