Don’t let the poster art fool you, there is no glass slipper to be found in this retelling of the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella.” Told in two acts, this Rossini classic finds “Cenerentola” (Julie Boulianne, Mezzo-Soprano) stuck with two horrid stepsisters and, wait for it, an evil stepFATHER! She has been relegated to a life of servitude to her ungrateful family, until the fateful day that her “fairy godFATHER” arrives into her life.
Alidoro (Kirk Eichelberger, Bass) disguises himself as a beggar seeking aid, finding that Cenerentola is willing to help, even as her stepsisters attempt to banish him and denigrate her. Seeing the good in her heart, Alidoro begins to pave the way for Prince Ramiro (Juan José de Léon, Tenor) to find his future bride. The Prince arrives shortly thereafter, disguised as his servant Dandini (Vito Priante, Baritone) who, in turn, is disguised as the Prince. The announcement that the Prince is having a ball that very night to choose a bride, brings out the true colours in our cast of characters and it is in that moment that the Prince and Cenerentola fall deeply in love. The rest, as they say, is history. A classic tale of girl disguises herself to attend a party, boy finds girl oddly familiar, girl runs away leaving only one object behind (not a shoe!), boy finds girl, girl is shocked to find that boy is actually a prince, prince elevates pauper to princess, terrible family is brought to justice.
Well I must start by saying “What a cast! What a chorus of voices!” Stepsisters Lauren Margison (Soprano) and Rose Naggar-Tremblay (Mezzo-Soprano) filled the room with their perfect vocal harmonies. In fact, the entire cast came together as though they had been performing together their entire careers. A rich and impressive tapestry of voices reaching over the orchestra and demanding your attention. José de Léon was a particular crowd-pleaser, as his rendition of Si, ritrovarla io giuro nearly generated its own standing ovation.
While I found that overall the production leaned a little too far towards the absurd, sometimes garnering laughs at times I questioned that they were intended, it was certainly a work of heart. I was fortunate enough to have been accompanied by a charming twelve-year-old friend of the family, and what a treat to introduce a new medium to a curious mind. For each time I thought “the set lacks sophistication” or “the actors playing mice are a little farcical”, she chimed in with “wow, what a beautiful décor” and “the mice were so funny!”
Though this opera is a mild exercise in endurance (the 1st act is an hour and a half!), I strongly recommend L’Opéra de Montréal’s “La Cenerentola” to all, but more specifically to anyone with a keen tween in their lives.
Photos by Yves Renaud