Friday, 28 January 2011

Friday is for Fairytales: The Love for Three Oranges

This is a meme hosted by me every Friday.

The Love for Three Oranges is an Italian fairy-tale written by Giambattista Basile (c. 1575 – 1632), who was a poet, courtier and fairy-tale collector.

This interesting story goes like this: There was a king who really wanted his son to marry. When the prince cut his finger one day and a drop of his blood fell on a piece of cheese, he said that he would only marry a woman who was as white as cheese and as red as blood. Then, he left the palace to find such a woman. After a while, he reached the Island of Ogresses (female ogres), where two old women told him he must continue with his journey because there, he would find what he was looking for. On his way, he met a third old woman and she gave him three oranges, but warned him that he must not cut them until he came to a fountain. In each orange was a fairy and she would need water immediately once her orange was cut open.

When the prince returned home, he went to the fountain and began to cut open the oranges. He was not fast enough with the first two oranges and the two fairies died, but he saved the third one by giving her water fast enough. The woman he saved was red and white, just the woman he wanted. While the prince went to arrange everything for her proper arrival and introduction at the court, she remained hidden in a tree in the garden. When a slave came for water, she saw the woman’s reflection in the fountain, but believed it to be her own and decided she was too pretty to be a servant girl. That angered her mistress and she beat the servant girl until the poor slave fled. That made the fairy woman laugh and the slave girl noticed her in the garden. The fairy woman told the slave girl her story and the slave girl offered to arrange her hair for the prince. The fairy woman agreed, but the slave girl stuck a pin into her head and for the sake of escaping the slave girl, the fairy woman had to turn into a bird. When the prince returned, the slave girl told him that wicked magic transformed her into an ugly girl.

So, the prince prepared for the wedding with the slave girl. The bird that was the fairy woman was caught and cooked, but the cook threw the water in which the bird was cooked into the garden and there, an orange tree grew in three days. When the prince saw the oranges, he took them to his room, to cut them open and give the fairies inside water. He got his true bride back and she told him what truly happened to her. He brought his bride to the feast and asked everyone present what, in their opinions, should be done to the person who tried to harm his bride. The slave girl also voiced her opinion, saying that such a person should be burned. And so, the prince had the slave burned. The end.

I learned about this interesting Italian fairy-tale three years ago when I went to see Sergei Prokofiev’s opera The Love for Three Oranges, based on the fairy-tale. It was a nice performance and definitely a great and colourful experience.


The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

What a lot of twists and turns-I was practically on the edge of my seat reading this summary! I do feel bad that the slave was burned but she did deserve it.

danya said...

Wow, I've never heard of this fairytale before but it's certainly different!! I'm trying to picture someone white as cheese and red as blood now... and wondering what type of cheese it was, LOL. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Oh wow, you went to see a performance. That must have been incredible. I certainly have not heard this tale before. Fascinating.

Blodeuedd said...

Yeesh what a tale, should I think the fairy was nice when she beat the slave..still very nice story, I liked the twists

Jan von Harz said...

I have never heard this airy tale either, and am beginning to realize how very limited I am in my knowledge of the genre. I really need to read more fairy tales by unknown authors. Thanks for another enlightening and fascinating post.

Katy said...

What an interesting fairy tale! I've never heard of it before either!