Houston Grand Opera's 2003 production of The Little Prince opens tomorrow at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. The opera, by Rachel Portman, is in English, and the production is the work of Francesca Zambello. There are also two other operas based on Antoine de Saint Exupéry's Le Petit Prince, Nikolaus Schapfl's Der Kleine Prinz (2003) and a 1964 Russian version from Lev Knipper.
Initially I felt quite skeptical about an operatic version of Le Petit Prince. I first read the book as an 8th grader, because it was assigned to my best friend in French class, and was attracted to the charming pictures and to the word baobab. Since then I've re-read the novella a dozen times, and as for so many people, it is one of my favorites.
The opera in Berkeley looks much like the book, and also features a very fine baritone, Eugene Brancoveanu, as the pilot. Two children share the role of the Prince, Tovi Wayne and Tyler Polen. Tenor Thomas Glenn sings the Snake and the Vain Man and Marie Lenormand is the Fox. The other two parts are taken by current Adler Fellows Ji Young Yang (the Rose) and Tamara Wapinsky (the Water).