Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Dolora Zajick Premieres Composition

At a concert in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in San Jose, California, on August 22, 2014, a few selections preceded the piece the audience had been waiting for: the world premiere of Dolora Zajick’s brand new composition, an opera scene entitled Roads to Zion.

Santa Fe Opera Presents Huang Ruo's Sun Yat-sen

By emphasizing the love between Sun Yat-sen and Soong Ching-ling, Ruo showed us the human side of this universally revered modern Chinese leader. Writer Lindsley Miyoshi has quoted the composer as saying that the opera is “about four kinds of love.” It speaks of affection between friends, between parents and children, between lovers, and between patriots and their country.

Britten War Requiem - Andris Nelsons, CBSO, BBC Prom 47

In light of the 2012 half-centenary of the premiere in the newly re-built Coventry Cathedral of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, the 2013 centennial celebrations of the composer’s own birth, and this year’s commemorations of the commencement of WW1, it is perhaps not surprising that the War Requiem - a work which was long in gestation and which might be seen as a summation of the composer’s musical, political and personal concerns - has been fairly frequently programmed of late. And, given the large, multifarious forces required, the potent juxtaposition of searing English poetry and liturgical Latin, and the profound resonances of the circumstances of the work’s commission and premiere, it would be hard to find a performance, as William Mann declared following the premiere, which was not a ‘momentous occasion’.

Santa Fe Opera Presents an Imaginative Carmen

Santa Fe opera has presented Carmen in various productions since 1961. This year’s version by Stephen Lawless takes place during the recent past in Northern Mexico near the United States border. The performance on August 6, 2014, featured Ana Maria Martinez as a monumentally sexy Gypsy who was part of a drug smuggling group.

Elgar Sea Pictures : Alice Coote, Mark Elder Prom 31

Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra persuasively balanced passion and poetry in this absorbing Promenade concert. Elder’s tempi were fairly relaxed but the result was spaciousness rather than ponderousness, with phrases given breadth and substance, and rich orchestral colours permitted to make startling dramatic impact.

Berio Sinfonia, Shostakovich, BBC Proms

Although far from perfect, the performance of Berio’s Sinfonia in the first half of this concert was certainly its high-point; indeed, I rather wish that I had left at the interval, given the tedium induced by Shostakovich’s interminable Fourth Symphony. Still, such was the programme Semyon Bychkov had been intended to conduct. Alas, illness had forced him to withdraw, to be replaced at short notice by Vasily Petrenko.

Four countertenors : Handel Rinaldo Glyndebourne

Handel's Rinaldo was first performed in 1711 at London's King's Theatre. Handel's first opera for London was designed to delight and entertain, combining good tunes, great singing with a rollicking good story. Robert Carsen's 2011 production of the opera for Glyndebourne reflected this with its tongue-in-cheek Harry Potter meets St Trinian's staging.

Santa Fe Opera Presents The Impresario and Le Rossignol

On August 7, 2014, the Santa Fe Opera presented a double bill of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Impresario and Igor Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol (The Nightingale). The Impresario deals with the casting of an opera and Le Rossignol tells the well-known fairy tale about the plain gray bird with an exquisite song.

Barber in the Beehive State

Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre has gifted opera enthusiasts with a thrilling Barber, and I don’t mean . . . of Seville.

Stravinsky : Oedipus Rex, BBC Proms

In typical Proms fashion, BBC Prom 28 saw Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex performed in an eclectic programme which started with Beethoven's Egmont Overture and also featured Electric Preludes by the contemporary Australian composer Brett Dean. Sakari Oramo,was making the first of his Proms appearances this year, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Chorus.

Santa Fe Opera Presents a Passionate Fidelio

Santa Fe Opera presented Beethoven’s Fidelio for the first time in 2014. Since the sides of the opera house are open, the audience watched the sun redden the low hanging clouds and set below the Sangre de Cristo mountains while Chief Conductor Harry Bicket led the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra in the rousing overture. At the same time, Alex Penda as the title character readied herself for the ordeal to come as she endeavored to rescue her unjustly imprisoned husband.

Rameau Grand Motets, BBC Proms

Best of the season so far! William Christie and Les Arts Florissants performed Rameau Grand Motets at late night Prom 17.

Adriana Lecouvreur, Opera Holland Park

Twelve years after Opera Holland Park's first production of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, the opera made a welcome return.

Back to the Beginnings: Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria at Iford Opera.

The Italianate cloister setting at Iford chimes neatly with Monteverdi’s penultimate opera The Return of Ulysses, as the setting cannot but bring to mind those early days of the musical genre.

Schoenberg : Moses und Aron, Welsh National Opera, London

Once again, we find ourselves thanking an unrepresentable being for Welsh National Opera’s commitment to its mission.

Count Ory, Dead Man Walking
and La traviata in Des Moines

If you don’t have the means to get to the Rossini festival in Pesaro, you would do just as well to come to Indianola, Iowa, where Des Moines Metro Opera festival has devised a heady production of Le Comte Ory that is as long on belly laughs as it is on musical fireworks.

Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, BBC Proms

Composed during just a few weeks of the summer of 1926, Janáček’s Slavonic-text Glagolitic Mass was first performed in Brno in December 1927.

Donizetti and Mozart, Jette Parker Young Artists Royal Opera House, London

With the conclusion of the ROH 2013-14 season on Saturday evening - John Copley’s 40-year old production of La Bohème bringing down the summer curtain - the sun pouring through the gleaming windows of the Floral Hall was a welcome invitation to enjoy a final treat. The Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Showcase offered singers whom we have admired in minor and supporting roles during the past year the opportunity to step into the spotlight.

Glyndebourne's Strauss Der Rosenkavalier, BBC Proms

Many words have already been spent - not all of them on musical matters - on Richard Jones’s Glyndebourne production of Der Rosenkavalier, which last night was transported to the Royal Albert Hall. This was the first time at the Proms that Richard Strauss’s most popular opera had been heard in its entirety and, despite losing two of its principals in transit from Sussex to SW1, this semi-staged performance offered little to fault and much to admire.

Il turco in Italia at the Aix Festival

Twenty years ago stage director Christopher Alden introduced Rossini’s then forgotten comedy to Southern California audiences in a production that is still remembered. In Aix Alden has revisited this complex work that many critics now consider Rossini’s greatest comedy.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Ketevan Kemoklidze as Cinderella [Photo by Robert Millard courtesy of Los Angeles Opera]
10 Apr 2013

Cinderella Goes to the Opera

The Los Angeles opera company marketed its spring production of Rossini's La Cenerentola as Cinderella though there is no opera by that name. The libretto of La Cenerentola is not the Cinderella story we know.

Cinderella Goes to the Opera

A review by Estelle Gilson

Above: Ketevan Kemoklidze as Cinderella [Photo by Robert Millard courtesy of Los Angeles Opera]

 

However, given that fairy tales have murky origins, are common to many different languages and cultures (and this one is no exception) it’s easy to understand that the Company chose a title likely to be familiar to a public living just down the road from Disney Land.

What exactly did they present on stage? La Cenerentola is a comic opera based on a French fairy tale by Charles Perrault, titled Cendrillon, ou la petite pantoufle de verre — Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper (Cendre, cenere, and cinder are all ashy prefixes) Perrault’s story, written in the late 1600s, is essentially the Cinderella story we know. Grimm’s is grimmer.

A year after the première of The Barber of Seville, Rossini was commissioned to write an opera for the Teatro Valle in Rome. It turned out to be a commission with problems. Three days before the December 1816 deadline for a libretto, none had been turned in. In urgent conference with librettist Jacopo Ferretti, Rossini rejected story after story as impractical for various reasons, among them, the unsuitability of the cast which had already been hired. When he finally agreed to the Cinderella story, he insisted it not have a fairy godmother or pumpkins that turned into coaches. Rossini, apparently did not look kindly on supernatural phenomena. He wanted his opera to have a moral component. Ferretti gave him La Cenerentola, ossia La bonta in trionfoCinderella or the Triumph of Goodness.

Ferretti completed the libretto in twenty-two days. Rossini composed the music in twenty-four days. A month later, on 25 January 1817, the opera received its first (seriously underrehearsed) performance at the Teatro Valle. It was not an instant success.

To do away with the supernatural and to add a moral to the story, Rossini’s Cenerentola is a girl named Angelina, whose mother has died. She lives with her step father, Don Magnifico, and his two daughters, and has become their mistreated servant. When a beggar seeking food enters the house, the nasty step sisters, Clorinda and Tisbe try to throw him out, but Angelina feeds him. An announcement is made that Prince Ramiro will soon appear to seek a wife. The step sisters overwork Cenerentola to help them prepare for his arrival. The prince appears, but wanting to be loved for himself alone, he is disguised as his own valet. No sooner do he and Cenerentola exchange one look, but they fall in love. In a moment, Dandini, the Prince’s valet, outfitted as the Prince, comes on the scene and invites everyone to the ball, where, he says, the Prince will choose his wife. Cenerentola (of course) is not allowed to go. How will she get transportation without pumpkins and a gorgeous outfit without a fairy godmother? The beggar was the Prince’s wise tutor in disguise. He can arrange anything. Suffice it to say that after the usual jolly confusion, the Prince returns to Don Magnifico’s house and identifies the servant girl as his true love. And once Cenerentola has become a princess, she forgives her cruel family, and all is hugs and kisses.

Mezzo Ketevan Kemoklidze, who offered an attractive and well acted Cenerentola, at the April 6th performance I attended, handled both her lyric and coloratura passages well, but her voice did not carry into the house. For some reason, perhaps the depth from which the principles were often required to perform, there were times their voices seemed barely to rise over the orchestra. It was apparent, however, that tenor René Barbera, as Prince Ramiro, has a bright and secure top voice. Stacy Tappan and Ronnita Nicole Miller were properly outlandish as the nasty Clorinda and Tisbe. Baritone Alessandro Corbelli, a veteran buffo performer was an amusing Don Magnifico, though here again - perhaps another sound issue — there was a lack of crispness in his patter. Bass baritone Vito Priante, making his US debut, was a delightful dandy in both voice and body as Dandini. Bass Nicola Ulivieri, as the tutor Alidoro, was impressive in his Mozartian “Là del ciel nell´arcano profondo”.

Los Angeles used a delightful production created in 2008 by Spanish director Joan Font in a joint venture with Barcelona’s Liceu, Houston Grand Opera, the Welsh National Opera and Grand Théâtre de Géneve. Señor Font employed brilliant colored costumes and added dancers dressed as the nicest, kindest, most amusing rats you’ll ever see, to add movement and interest to the static plot. No review of this performance can be complete without acknowledging the intensity and attention to detail that the dancers brought to their roles. Nor can it be complete without mention of Maestro James Conlon’s sensitivity to the score, reflecting his program notes and pre-performance lecture, in both of which, he recounted his love for Rossini’s music.

Sadly, in the end, Señor Font did not give us a happy story about virtue rewarded. He sabotaged Rossini’s message at the very last moment by sadistically quick-switching Cenerentola and the audience from the bright lights, joy and forgiveness reigning at her wedding, back to her lonely, dark, ashy hearth. It was mean spirited and trite. We all know life is but a dream.

Estelle Gilson


Cast and production information:

Clorinda: Stacy Tappan; Tisbe:Ronnita Nicole Miller; Angelina (Cenerentola):Ketevan Kemoklidze; Alidoro:Nicola Ulivieri; Don Magnifico:Alessandro Corbelli; Don Ramiro: René Barbera; Dandini:Vito Priante. Orchestra and chorus of the Los Angeles Opera. Conductor: James Conlon. Director: Joan Font. Scenery and Costume Design: Joan Guillén. Lighting Designer: Albert Faura. Chorus Director: Grant Gershon. Choreographer: Xevi Dorca.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):