“Cenrentola” is Rossini’s second most popular opera with “The Barber of Seville”. being the # 1 fugitive.
In the Los Angeles Opera, he regularly appeared at intervals of 13 years: first, in the troupe’s second season in 1987, with Frederica von Stade as the heroine and Neville Marriner in the pit. He returned with comic, modern clothing in 2000, when Jennifer Larmor made Cinderella’s treacherous flights easy. The 2013 production featured two opposite Cinderellas, alternating roles, including James Conlon setting a brilliant pace and a memorable collection of cute, helpful rats.
Saturday night – another version of the Los Angeles opera “Cinderella”. – originally scheduled for fall 2020, but postponed a year ago due to the pandemic – opened at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, just eight and a half years after the latter. The joint production of the Dutch National Opera, the Bolshoi Theater of Geneva and the Palais des Arts in Valencia “Reina Sofia” tries to unite two completely different worlds. It seems out of place, but Rossini and Cinderella eventually come out on top.
Cinderella is a fairy tale that does not have a specific period and can be effectively played out in any historical era, as long as there are class differences and dysfunctional families. In this version, director and costume designer Laurent Pelly places the house of a dilapidated Don Magnifico (Cinderella’s clumsy, overconfident stepfather) somewhere in the 1950s or 60s, crammed with aging furniture, a Hotpoint refrigerator and other appliances. … They move through several moving blocks; at times the scene resembles an overflowing storage block. Cinderella’s half-sisters, Clorinda and Tisbe – spoiled girls from the valley – all that’s missing is one of them screaming, “Shut me up with a spoon!” – and Cinderella with glasses is working on cleaning the house.
Meanwhile, Prince Don Ramiro’s courtiers wear Rossini-era 19th-century wigs and costumes – with the exception of spectacled royal incognito himself, making the initial mutual attraction between him and Cinderella more compelling. These worlds collide openly as the pink and white colors of the courtyard blend into the dull interior of the Magnifico home. This made an illogical sense in the finale of Act I, Rossini’s typical hand-to-hand combat, reflecting the bewilderment of the characters.
Then there is Alidoro, the prince’s mentor, who discovers Cinderella disguised as a homeless man. Although Rossini does not use the fairy godmother in his tale, Alidoro stands here when he transforms into a tuxedo-clad guide who whips the incredulous Cinderella to the ball, and his club acts like a magic wand leading the action.
When Serena Malfi’s Cinderella drops her glasses and appears at the ball, she bears an uncanny physical resemblance to the great Cinderella of our time, Cecilia Bartoli – a good omen. And the Neapolitan mezzo-soprano succeeded in this omen, retaining her vocal resources so that alone on stage, she was prepared for these impossible runs and the scale of her latest aria of amazement and joy. She did it with flair and power.
Another vocal star that stood out was the familiar lead voice in the annals of the Los Angeles Opera, bass-baritone Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, who now plays the affable Alidoro in the conductor’s phase. As Don Ramiro, South African tenor Levi Sekgapane had the delicate lyrical voice often heard in Rossini; the highest notes didn’t quite sound, but they were.
Alessandro Corbelli returned from the 2013 production to play Don Magnifico once again, his voice amplified and more agile in the opening aria of Act II. Rodion Pogosov was Dandini’s dandy and, like Corbelli, his best vocal moments were in the second act.
Veteran conductor Roberto Abbado, a member of the Abbado dynasty of music, found himself in the orchestra pit for the first time on Saturday. Except for the tedious practice of staging stupidity during the overture, Abbado conducted this overture without distraction in front of the closed curtain, and his conducting became stronger and sharper in rhythm in the second act. Alas, many of the streams of fast Rossinian tongue twister didn’t even come close to being consistent in Act I, damaging the momentum for those wonderful, fast-paced crescendos that are so hard to sing.
Fortunately, LA Opera has a track record of making Cinderella’s after its premiere. I attended the first and fourth performances of the opera in 2013 and was amazed at how the fourth time everything became more complex and clearer. In other words, this performance is likely to get even better every day.
Where: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles
When: November 20 – December 12.
Tickets: $ 18-282