The Little Prince, subtitled A Magical Opera, is an opera in two acts by Rachel Portman to an English libretto by Nicholas Wright, based on the 1943 book of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. First performance: Houston, 2003.
The Little Prince was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera and premiered in May 2003. It was then performed by the Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and then the Boston Lyric Opera. Houston Grand Opera had a return engagement in December 2004.
In the UK, it was filmed by the BBC following a nationwide talent search for children to play the roles of the Prince, the Rose and a chorus of thirty-six vocalists. Over 25,000 children applied, with over 6,500 taking part in auditions. The television show Blue Peter documented the search for the singers, and filmed their training and rehearsals. The Little Prince was broadcast on BBC2 on Saturday, 27 November 2004 at 7:30pm.
Future performances are scheduled in the US by the University of Kentucky Opera, the New York City Opera in April and November 2005 respectively, whilst Tulsa, Oklahoma City Opera and Santa Fé Opera have not had their dates confirmed.
The Pilot tells of his childhood, and how he drew pictures that the grown-ups could not understand. He tells of how he then became a pilot, and is flying above the earth amongst the stars.
Act 1 :
A sandstorm forces the Pilot's plane to crash in the Sahara. Whilst he tries to fix his plane, the Prince appears, who asks the Pilot to draw him a sheep. The Pilot slowly learns about the Prince, who comes from Asteroid B-612, and how his home is in danger from baobab trees. He wants the sheep to eat the baobab bushes. However, he is concerned that the sheep will eat his rose, who he wants to protect and care for.
He eventually left his planet via a flock of wild birds, and he visits the planets of the King, the Vain Man, the Drunkard, the Businessman and the Lamplighter. The Prince is bewildered by the behaviour of these grown-ups. He then headed to the planet earth.
Act 2 :
The Little Prince meets a snake who offers to help him find his way back home. The Prince comes across a rose garden, and is upset to discover that his rose is not the only one in the universe.
Fox-hunters appear with guns, and once they disappear again, the Fox comes out of hiding. The Prince asks to play with the Fox, but the Fox responds : "I can't play/ With a human being/ I've not been tamed." The Prince tames the Fox, and before he must leave again, the Fox gives him a secret. He explains that anything essential is invisible to the eye, and that the rose on his planet is unique because, as the Prince realises, "It's the time I spent on my rose/ That makes my rose so important."
Back in the present, the Pilot reminds the Prince that he is running out of water, and they set off in search of a well, which they eventually find at sunrise. However, the Prince's visit is almost at an end, and he must return to his planet. The Pilot is afraid that the Prince will die - however, the Prince says "Don't be upset./ I'm not about to die./ All that you see is just a shell./ There's nothing sad about a shell./ Anything essential/ Is invisible to the eye."
The Snake strikes the Prince, and he disappears. The Pilot is left alone. A chorus of the stars sing, consoling the Pilot (and the audience), and the performance draws to a close.
Cast and crew
Please note : these concern the BBC production
The Cast :
The Crew :
Following the television broadcast, BBC in conjunction with Sony Classical released a double-CD and DVD production of The Little Prince on Monday 29th November 2004. Upon release the CD set entered the classical charts.