This opera was new to me -- previously the only Prokofiev operas I knew were "War & Peace" and "The Betrothal in a Monastery" -- and I was delighted with it from start to finish. It takes Prokofiev's touches of Commedia dell'Arte and expands them to encompass the entire production, chorus, leads, staging and all. The enormous size of the Bastille stage allows the director, Gilbert Deflo, to place the opposing choruses on opposite sides of the pit and to keep them in view throughout the piece, so that the audience is drawn in through the chorus. The stage tricks are delightful and suited to the pace of the production, including abundant fireworks, some good tumbling and juggling, and two 'flying changes' for the Princess turned into a rat and back again.
The music of the opera is declamatory rather than lyrical: it proceeds as a drama more than as a conventional opera with arias and duets and so forth. Nevertheless, the music is brilliant and serves the story admirably, and the orchestral score positively crackles. The famous March is used to finish off the evening as well as in its more usual places, which means that the audience does have a good tune to whistle on the way home.
The singers, with the exception of the wonderful Jose van Dam as the magician, were not familiar to me, but I was deeply impressed with Charles Workman as the Prince, a fine lyric tenor with a sweet tone and enough power for heavier roles should he move to them. (At the moment his repertoire is largely Mozart, Rossini, and Rameau, but he also has Strauss (Arabella), Janacek (The Makropoulos Case) and Hindemith (Cardillac) so he may widen his scope even further.)
If you like Prokofiev, modern opera, theatricality at its best, commedia, or just sheer enjoyment, this is for you. As a postscript, if you want the lyric and more highly dramatic side of Prokofiev I strongly recommend the Paris Opera production of "War and Peace" on TDK.