Portman: The Little Prince

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Rachel Portman has already revealed her gift for writing abundantly melodic, colorful, and vividly descriptive music in her film scores: the Oscar-winning Emma, Chocolat, and many others. But the full breadth of her talents has really come into focus with The Little Prince, a thoroughly magical opera based on the perennially popular children's book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Using a directly expressive and highly sophisticated musical style, Portman's opera has demonstrated its appeal to children and adults alike since its premiere at the Houston Grand Opera in 2003. If some of it sounds like a movie soundtrack especially the scene-setting orchestral passages, other ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Rachel Portman has already revealed her gift for writing abundantly melodic, colorful, and vividly descriptive music in her film scores: the Oscar-winning Emma, Chocolat, and many others. But the full breadth of her talents has really come into focus with The Little Prince, a thoroughly magical opera based on the perennially popular children's book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Using a directly expressive and highly sophisticated musical style, Portman's opera has demonstrated its appeal to children and adults alike since its premiere at the Houston Grand Opera in 2003. If some of it sounds like a movie soundtrack especially the scene-setting orchestral passages, other pages of this eclectic score show the influence of popular musical theatre, and still others the traces of traditional opera. Portman has a keen ear for text-setting -- the words, in English, all come through very clearly -- and she finds a delightful variety of musical colors for each of the Prince's adventures throughout the planets and on Earth. The title role is portrayed by a boy soprano, Joseph McManners, with a vocal beauty and purity that perfectly conveys the child's innocent view of the cosmos; the luminous tones of a children's chorus effectively echo the Prince at many points, while baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the Pilot, soprano Lesley Garrett as the Fox, and several smaller cameo performances flesh out the cast with deftly sketched characterizations. Although it would be ideal to see the opera on stage -- or on the DVD released simultaneously with this recording -- Portman's music alone is evocative enough to create a fairy-tale world, both whimsical and poignant, that is sure to enchant listeners of all ages.
All Music Guide - Patsy Morita
The packaging for "The Little Prince" only says "opera" in smallish print on the back, and there are few other clues in or on the rest of the packaging to tell you that it is an actual opera. It's as if Sony was afraid that people wouldn't buy it if they knew it was an opera, rather hoping to sell it as a soundtrack to a television performance, which is something of an insult to the talents of composer Rachel Portman. Portman's music is lush, tonal, tuneful, and symphonic, but more than those elements, it is her keen sense of the connection between music and emotion and her sense of music as a narrative tool that make her works appealing and well-suited to the operatic genre. "The Little Prince" is touching to the point of poignancy, but without melodrama and hand wringing. The music is rich, but there are also times when it is sparer and harder-edged, depending on the story's action. Nicholas Wright's libretto follows Antoine de Saint Exupéry's book quite closely, with added narrative to move the action along. The music echoes and reinforces the text at points such as when the plane crashes, where the bumpiness of the "Juddering! Shuddering!" is heard, and when the Prince meets the Drunkard, where the music becomes slurred and out of focus. Some adults and Classical music traditionalists may think the marriage of text and music is simplistic and popularist, but they would be missing the point of the story, not to mention the fact that Portman intended to write an opera specifically for children. Even with that in mind, neither the text nor the music is dumbed down. The pacing is not fast, but the action doesn't drag. The balance between vocal and orchestral music is also good. The performers in this first recording of the opera are surprisingly good, both in voice and acting. The Pilot, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, and the Prince, Joseph McManners, could easily have overdone their parts emotionally, but they play them matter-of-factly, the way the characters are drawn in the book. McManners is careful in the more difficult passages, but always well in-tune. The biggest name in the production is Lesley Garrett, who plays the Fox tamed by the Prince. The part suits her voice extremely well, not giving her the opportunity to ham it up or stretch out of range or otherwise display her usual intonation problems. The hand-picked children's chorus is also quite good, neither perfect nor too amateurish. The recording finishes with a radio-friendly song that encapsulates the main points of the Prince's music and character. "The Little Prince" is a worthy addition to the genre of children's opera.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/29/2005
  • Label: Sony
  • UPC: 827969392423
  • Catalog Number: 93924

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–29 The Little Prince, opera - Rachel Portman & David Charles Abell (100:13)
    Composed byRachel Portman
    Conducted byDavid Charles Abell
    Performed byDavid Charles Abell, BBC Concert Orchestra, Robert Burt, Michael Druiett, Lesley Garrett, Aled Jones, Thomas Randle, Timothy Robinson, Richard Suart, Willard White, Richard Coxon, Riccardo Simonetti, Gweneth-Ann Jeffers, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Mary Hegarty, Helen Williams, Charlene Badibanga, Christina Bennington, Jordon Giffen Brown, Yasmin Buchanan, Andrew Bullmore, Hannah Calder, Mairead Carlin, Lise Christensen, Samantha Croll, William Dutton, Leigh Egerton, Oliver Elliott, Daisy Fairclough, Adam Field-Wright, Louise Fuller, Alice Gimblett, Kris Guthrie, Martin Hagan, Edmund Haxby, Jack Hinton, Kurtis Hudson, Paul Carey Jones, Sam Kingston-Jones, Jack Lewin, David Lewis, Liam Lewis, Harry Linacre, Hayley Lloyd-Henry, George Longworth, Rochelle Marsden, Joseph McManners, Evvy Miller, Tommy Mogford, Jahan Otto, Kavita Parmar, Isabelle Peters, Alok Prasad, Freddy de Rivaz, Alys Roberts, Boyd Rodgers, Isolde Roxby, Safron Smyth, Tim Sutton, Rebecca Turner
    1. 1Act 1. The Pilot
    2. 2Act 1. The Stars
    3. 3Act 1. The Pilot Meets The Prince
    4. 4Act 1. Sunsets
    5. 5Act 1. The Prince's Planet
    6. 6Act 1. The Baobabs
    7. 7Act 1. On My Planet
    8. 8Act 1. The Rose
    9. 9Act 1. The Cranes Are Flying
    10. 10Act 1. The King
    11. 11Act 1. The Vain Man
    12. 12Act 1. The Drunkard
    13. 13Act 1. The Businessman
    14. 14Act 1. The Lamplighter
    15. 15Act 1. We Light Our Lamps
    16. 16Act 2. The Snake
    17. 17Act 2. The Rose Garden
    18. 18Act 2. The Hunters
    19. 19Act 2. The Fox
    20. 20Act 2. The Taming
    21. 21Act 2. Here's My Secret
    22. 22Act 2. If We Don't Find A Well
    23. 23Act 2. The Walk To The Well
    24. 24Act 2. The Well
    25. 25Act 2. The Time Has Come
    26. 26Act 2. The Snake Returns
    27. 27Act 2. It Is The Place
    28. 28Act 2. Look At The Stars
    29. 29The Little Prince Song
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
David Charles Abell Primary Artist
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Customer Reviews

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