Ballets like Tchaikovsky, comics like Rossini and love duets like Wagner.. Massenet certainly had his fun with this; it’s another Cinderella story; Cendrillon. A fairytale in four act is just here to mesmerise you with Laurent Pelly’s elegant staging for the Met Opera.
Setting with the original text from Charles Perrault’s story is there to remind us we’re in a fairytale in a subtle way. These walls open to a dominance of red as a representation of royalty. My favourite thing in this opera is Massenet’s sense of humour; placed between motives, melodies and text very cleverly. Just like it was intended, this production didn’t cartoonized the story; and managed to make audience laugh several times.
This setting has the effect of turning pages of a fairytale you read for the first time. Walls with book pages kept changing places to adjust the space of the stage and it’s as if you’re reading it. I loved it. It was just as our imagination. It is the story; not exaggerated, just as it is. Stepmother in her fabulous and funny costume never seems mannered with the help of devious voice and acting of Stephanie Blythe. Father played by Laurent Naouri has such a facial expressions that prevents you to get angry with him to be so passive. Kathleen Kim’s fairytale is so realistic and funny, I am convinced she’s just like us with her rights and wrongs; just doing her job as a fairy :)
Joyce DiDonato, a strong mezzo-soprano didn’t convince me for a vulnerable and fragile Cendrillon. Prince charming Alice Coote didn’t get the energy from DiDonato for sure; there was no chemistry between them at all. Yes, they are both female but we need the chemistry on stage. But their love duet can still impress you if you give them a support of your imagination.
Keep in mind that it is very very very hard to make the 2010s audience laugh with opera. Alter all, it is all old jokes. But with careful staging, anything is possible. Especially with the stepmother and sisters, ball with princess-candidate parade and shoe-trial contest, there was quite a laughter in the auditorium.
Can't finish without stating my favorite moments of the opera :) I love the flute and cellos at the beginning of the second act; it's wonderful melody, always deceiving to modulate but takes you home afterwards. Also, I adore the stepmothers aria where she states her royal decendents after they returned from the ball. Pay attention to these for my sake.
Strongly suggested production for another take on famous Cinderella. Just like they say in the end; ‘Don’t we deserve a hand for taking you by slipper to golden fairyland?’
Oh, and before we forget, happy 2021 everyone!