By Lynne Gray, PhD
Please note this can be seen at www.metopera.org
Friday, July 17
Rossini’s La Cenerentola ~ 2Hrs 43Mins
Starring Elina Garanča, Lawrence Brownlee, Simone Alberghini, and John Relyea, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From May 9, 2009.
This is the second go-around for Cesare Lievi’s delightfully whimsical production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola. The first one starred the wonderful Joyce DiDonato as Cinderella with Juan Diego Flórez as her Prince Charming, while this time we have Elina Garanča and Lawrence Brownlee – an equally accomplished bel canto pair. This, of course is Rossini’s take on the timeless fairy tale, and in this retelling, the supporting characters all share the many bel canto treats on display: Cinderella’s stepfather and the Prince’s valet are given memorable arias, and the composer has rounded out this lively score with several ingenious ensemble flourishes.
Rossini’s Cenerentola (Cinderella), written when he was only 25 years old, dispenses with almost all of the fairytale wishes and magic we are so familiar with, but maintains the wonderful sense of fun and romance that was so pervasive in the original French fairytale, Cendrillon by Charles Perrault. Be forewarned, however – there are several role changes here, and many different disguises that are not in the version most of us know.
We begin in the dilapidated palace of Don Magnifico (the comic stepfather who here replaces the wicked stepmother) where his somewhat less than lovely daughters, Clorinda and Tisbe are fighting with each other – as usual. The little family group shares Don Magnifico’s humorous aria, “Miei rampolli” in which he describes a delightful dream he has just had of being turned into a donkey and jumping over the town’s church while bells chime their joy – a particularly auspicious (and perhaps apt) omen to his way of thinking! We learn that their stepsister, Angelina, is now serving as their maid since her mother died, and so they call her “Cenerentola” (Cinderella). As she sings a plaintive tune about a king who marries a common girl, a beggar comes to the door. The stepsisters summarily send him away, but Cenerentola offers him bread and coffee. As it turns out, this “beggar” is actually Alidoro (literally, wings of gold!) who is the Prince’s tutor and is scouting out potential brides for his pupil. Another knock brings in a group of courtiers who announce that Prince Ramiro will soon make a visit because he is searching for the most beautiful girl in the land to make her his wife. A gala ball has been planned, and he will choose her there.
Magnifico who, of course, desires only to improve his own fortunes, hopes the Prince will choose one of his daughters. Meanwhile, having been told by Alidoro that there is a promising young girl in the house, Prince Ramiro enters – but is disguised as one of his own servants. Cenerentola comes into the room – and there is still enough of a fairytale here to provide us with a beautiful ‘love at first sight’ duet. When the servant (actual Prince) asks who she is, she cannot tell him and runs away. And now the “Prince” enters – actually the real prince’s (very) comic valet, Dandini – and Magnifico, Tisbe and Clorinda fall all over each other flattering him. An invitation to the ball is delivered, but when Cenerentola asks to be allowed to go she is roughly rebuked all around. Noting their cruel treatment of her, the servant (actual Prince) exits with the Prince (actual valet). Alidoro, however, returns and tells Cenerentola that he will take her to the ball himself, because God rewards those of good heart.
So — by Act 2 in this switched up tale, we have Cenerentola not caring about the Prince at all, believing that she loves his servant; Magnifico fretting that his daughters are not having any success; the Prince wondering what in the world Alidoro was thinking when he said there was a worthy bride in Magnifico’s house; and the butler, Dandini playing the role of “Prince” to the hilt.
You may have faith that because this is an operatic dramma giocoso (comic play), all will be straightened out before the wonderful ‘wedding cake’ ending. The only other twist you might want to look for is that there is no lost glass slipper or searching for dainty feet… there are, however, twin bracelets that serve a similar purpose….. and they will definitely all live happily ever after – of course!
It’s a light and deliciously marvelous musical soufflé – if you missed it the first time – or even if you did see it in April – it’s a very pleasant way to spend some happy weekend hours.
1. Rachelle Durkin as Clorinda, Elīna Garanča as Angelina, Patricia Risley as Tisbe in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola.” Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
2. Rachelle Durkin as Clorinda, Alessandro Corbelli as Don Magnifico and Patricia Risley as Tisbe in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola.” Photo Credit: Beth Bergman / Metropolitan Opera.
3. Simone Alberghini as Dandini, Elīna Garanča as Angelina, Alessandro Corbelli as Don Magnifico, Patricia Risley as Tisbe, Lawrence Brownlee as Prince Ramiro and Rachelle Durkin as Clorinda in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola.” Photo Credit: Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera.
4. John Relyea as Alidoro and Elina Garanča as Angelina in the Met’s production of Rossini’s
“La Cenerentola,” 2009. Photo Credit: Johan Elbers / Metropolitan Opera.
5. Lawrence Brownlee as Prince Ramiro (on their wedding cake!) and Elīna Garanča as Angelina in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” at the Met. Photo Credit: Beth Bergman / Metropolitan Opera.