Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Rigoletto past, present and future: a muddled production by Christiane Lutz for Glyndebourne Touring Opera

Charlie Chaplin was a master of slapstick whose rag-to-riches story - from workhouse-resident clog dancer to Hollywood legend with a salary to match his status - was as compelling as the physical comedy that he learned as a member of Fred Karno’s renowned troupe.

Rinaldo Through the Looking-Glass: Glyndebourne Touring Opera in Canterbury

Robert Carsen’s production of Rinaldo, first seen at Glyndebourne in 2011, gives a whole new meaning to the phrases ‘school-boy crush’ and ‘behind the bike-sheds’.

Predatory power and privilege in WNO's Rigoletto at the Birmingham Hippodrome

At a party hosted by a corrupt and dissolute political leader, wealthy patriarchal predators bask in excess, prowling the room on the hunt for female prey who seem all too eager to trade their sexual favours for the promise of power and patronage. ‘Questa o quella?’ the narcissistic host sings, (this one or that one?), indifferent to which woman he will bed that evening, assured of impunity.

Virginie Verrez captivates in WNO's Carmen at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Jo Davies’ new production of Carmen for Welsh National Opera presents not the exotic Orientalism of nineteenth-century France, nor a tale of the racial ‘Other’, feared and fantasised in equal measure by those whose native land she has infiltrated.

Die Zauberflöte brings mixed delights at the Royal Opera House

When did anyone leave a performance of Mozart’s Singspiel without some serious head scratching?

Haydn's La fedeltà premiata impresses at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

‘Exit, pursued by an octopus.’ The London Underground insignia in the centre of the curtain-drop at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Silk Street Theatre, advised patrons arriving for the performance of Joseph Haydn’s La fedeltà premiata (Fidelity Rewarded, 1780) that their Tube journey had terminated in ‘Arcadia’ - though this was not the pastoral idyll of Polixenes’ Bohemia but a parody of paradise more notable for its amatory anarchy than any utopian harmony.

Van Zweden conducts an unforgettable Walküre at the Concertgebouw

When native son Jaap van Zweden conducts in Amsterdam the house sells out in advance and expectations are high. Last Saturday, he returned to conduct another Wagner opera in the NTR ZaterdagMatinee series. The Concertgebouw audience was already cheering the maestro loudly before anyone had played a single note. By the end of this concert version of Die Walküre, the promise implicit in the enthusiastic greeting had been fulfilled. This second installment of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung was truly memorable, and not just because of Van Zweden’s imprint.

Purcell for our time: Gabrieli Consort & Players at St John's Smith Square

Passing the competing Union and EU flags on College Green beside the Palace of Westminster on my way to St John’s Smith Square, where Paul McCreesh’s Gabrieli Consort & Players were to perform Henry Purcell’s 1691 'dramatic opera' King Arthur, the parallels between England now and England then were all too evident.

The Dallas Opera Cockerel: It’s All Golden

I greatly enjoyed the premiere of The Dallas Opera’s co-production with Santa Fe Opera of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel when it debuted at the latter in the summer festival of 2018.

Luisa Miller at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its second production of the current season Lyric Opera of Chicago is featuring Giuseppe Verdi’s Luisa Miller.

Philip Glass: Music with Changing Parts - European premiere of revised version

Philip Glass has described Music with Changing Parts as a transitional work, its composition falling between earlier pieces like Music in Fifths and Music in Contrary Motion (both written in 1969), Music in Twelve Parts (1971-4) and the opera Einstein on the Beach (1975). Transition might really mean aberrant or from no-man’s land, because performances of it have become rare since the very early 1980s (though it was heard in London in 2005).

Wexford Festival Opera 2019

The 68th Wexford Festival Opera, which runs until Sunday 3rd November, is bringing past, present and future together in ways which suggest that the Festival is in good health, and will both blossom creatively and stay true to its roots in the years ahead.

Cenerentola, jazzed to the max

Seattle Opera’s current staging of Cenerentola is mostly fun to watch. It is also a great example of how trying too hard to inflate a smallish work to fill a huge auditorium can make fun seem more like work.

Bottesini’s Alì Babà Keeps Them Laughing

On Friday evening October 25, 2019, Opera Southwest opened its 47th season with composer Giovanni Bottesini and librettist Emilio Taddei’s Alì Babà in a version reconstructed from the original manuscript score by Conductor Anthony Barrese.

Ovid and Klopstock clash in Jurowski’s Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’

There were two works on this London Philharmonic Orchestra programme given by Vladimir Jurowski – Colin Matthews’s Metamorphosis and Gustav Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’. The way Jurowski played it, however, one might have been forgiven for thinking we were listening to a new work by Mahler, something which may not have been lost on those of us who recalled that Matthews had collaborated with Deryck Cooke on the completion of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony.

Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus: English National Opera

‘All opera is Orpheus,’ Adorno once declared - although, typically, what he meant by that was rather more complicated than mere quotation would suggest. Perhaps, in some sense, all music in the Western tradition is too - again, so long as we take care, as Harrison Birtwistle always has, never to confuse starkness with over-simplification.

The Marriage of Figaro in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera rolled out the first installment of its new Mozart/DaPonte trilogy, a handsome Nozze, by Canadian director Michael Cavanagh to lively if mixed result.

Little magic in Zauberland at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

To try to conceive of Schumann’s Dichterliebe as a unified formal entity is to deny the song cycle its essential meaning. For, its formal ambiguities, its disintegrations, its sudden breaks in both textual image and musical sound are the very embodiment of the early Romantic aesthetic of fragmentation.

Donizetti's Don Pasquale packs a psychological punch at the ROH

Is Donizetti’s Don Pasquale a charming comedy with a satirical punch, or a sharp psychological study of the irresolvable conflicts of human existence?

Chelsea Opera Group perform Verdi's first comic opera: Un giorno di regno

Until Verdi turned his attention to Shakespeare’s Fat Knight in 1893, Il giorno di regno (A King for a Day), first performed at La Scala in 1840, was the composer’s only comic opera.

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):