The music of Rostov composer Leonid Klinichev is well-known to adult audiences at the Mariinsky Theatre. As a result of his collaboration with the Mariinsky Academy of Young Opera Singers several new works have appeared. In 2014 at the Concert Hall came the world premiere of the opera Bela after the eponymous story from Mikhail Lermontov's novel A Hero of Our Time. Last season there were premieres of another two of his works: the operas The Cossacks based on the plot of Leo Tolstoy's Cossack tale and the mono-opera Anna, dedicated to Anna Akhmatova. In January there will be a premiere of Zinaida.
The Little Princewas Klinichev's first opera, written especially for young audiences. The idea behind its creation belongs to Larisa Gergieva, Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Opera Singers. The composer had thought about an opera based on the famous story by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for a long time, and so, on receiving a new commission in December 2015 already by January 2016 he had completed work on the opus.
"It is not by chance that this tale by de Saint-Exupéry has won world acclaim. Everyone has a dream. Some dream of meeting a fairy-tale prince, others of meeting amazing characters... The fairy-tale is laid out in the most basic language, with simple ideas that are immediately enchanting," Leonid Klinichev said in an interview with Mariinsky FM internet radio.
The libretto was written by the composer's daughter Madina Klinicheva, who transformed the text of the narrative into poetic verse. The most vivid characters were taken from the literary source for the opera: the capricious Rose, the wise Fox, the power-loving King, the crafty Snake and the lonely Lamplighter among others. As with any work, The Little Prince contains several hidden layers of ideas, to understand which one requires a certain life experience. Perhaps children might not understand the sub-text, and yet the main ideas will find a response, even with the very youngest. As, for example, occurs with the phrase that has long been rather pithy: "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."