November 11, 14, 16, & 18, 2017 at 7:30 PM Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts
Angelina is a servant to her two stepsisters and stepfather. When Prince Ramiro enters her life, she soon gets to trade her broom for a sceptre!
A classic fairy tale, a dazzling composer, an ideal cast.
Let Opéra de Montréal’s second production of the season carry you away to the wonderful, electrifying world of Gioachino Rossini’s LaCenerentola: featuring lively music, bursting with energy that sweeps audiences up into a whirlwind of emotions—ranging from tenderness to musical madness—brought to life in the smashing stage direction of Joan Font, matching the energy of Rossini’s work.
Singing the title role of Cenerentola (Angelina) is Quebec mezzo Julie Boulianne, who has moved audiences the world over with her rich sound, great sensitivity, and vocal agility. Alongside her, two Italian baritones making their Opéra de Montréal debuts: Pietro Spagnoli as Cinderella’s cruel and ridiculous stepfather Don Magnifico, and Vito Priante as Dandini, valet to Prince Ramiro. Portraying the prince is American tenor Juan José de Léon, a rising star on the international opera stage. Lauren Margison and Rose Naggar-Tremblay, two members of the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, portray Cinderella’s mean stepsisters, Clorinda and Tisbe, respectively. Under the baton of Rossini specialist Jose Miguel Pérez-Sierra, this ensemble of high-calibre singers, along with the Orchestre Métropolitain and the Opéra de Montréal Chorus, will bring Rossini’s music to life in a magical and colourful staging by Joan Font, assisted by choreographer Xevi Dorca. Sets and costumes by Joan Guillén and lighting by Albert Faura will further showcase the captivating stage direction.
The Story: Goodness triumphs
The fairy tale of Cinderella we are most familiar with in the western world tells the story of a young woman tormented by her cruel stepmother and stepsisters, who—with the help of a fairy godmother—manages to make her way to a big ball where all the women in the land have gathered. At the dance, she captivates the prince with her beauty and pureness of heart, and, after various twists and turns, ends up marrying him, trading her broom for a sceptre. While La Cenerentola follows the broad lines of the fairy tale, there are significant differences: first of all, it is a pompous and ridiculous stepfather (rather than a cruel stepmother), obsessed with elevating his social status, who mistreats Cinderella—opening the door to social commentary and, especially, to several comical situations (further heightened by the prince and his valet swapping their clothes). Cinderella doesn’t get any help from a fairy godmother in the opera; instead, it is Alidoro, Ramiro’s tutor, who comes to her aid, as he wants to make sure the prince marries a woman whose heart is pure. Cenerentola doesn’t rely on magic to win over the prince—her goodness alone suffices. In fact, La Cenerentola’s subtitle is La bontà in trionfo (Goodness Triumphs).
The Work: Lightning fast
In a presentation given at the Academia Tiburtina in Rome in 1835 (“Alcune pagine della mia vita”), librettist Jacopo Ferretti explained the genesis of La Cenerentola: after having suggested some thirty different opera subjects to Rossini—all of which the composer rejected—, Ferretti mumbled “Cinderella…”… Rossini, who, in the meantime, had gone to bed bored and displeased, quickly got up and asked the librettist how long it would take to write an outline of the libretto—which Ferretti apparently delivered the next day, having stayed up all night to work on it. While this anecdote is probably an exaggeration, we do know that La Cenerentola did indeed come together rather quickly: Rossini received the first version of the libretto on December 25, 1816, and the opera’s premiere took place exactly one month later, on January 25, 1817. According to Rossini specialist Philip Gossett, the composer took just one month to compose and write out—by hand—six hundred and fifty pages of music!
This astonishing compositional speed did not prevent the composer from delivering a score brimming with powerful moments of music. On the contrary, La Cenerentola is a reflection of Rossini’s great mastery of the art form. The opera’s strength comes from its variety, in its juxtaposition of moments of overwhelming speed and energy (Stendhal compared the opera’s music to “fireworks”), brief pauses and moments of general amazement, and yet other moments of great tenderness (as in the magnificent duet “Un soave non so che”). Rossini is a master of comic rhythm, which explains the resounding success of his comic operas. In the words of Stendhal, an inveterate Rossini fan, “while Rossini’s imitators have often recaptured the pace of his work, which is easy enough to copy in music, no one has yet succeeded in reproducing his peculiar brand of wit.”
Language: Performed in Italian with bilingual surtitles
Duration: 3 hours (2 acts with 1 intermission)
Libretto: Jacopo Ferretti, after Cendrillon by Charles Perrault, inspired by the librettos by Charles-Guillaume Etienne for Cendrillon by Nicolas Isouard (Paris, 1810), and by Francesco Fiorini for Agatina, o La virtù premiata by Stefano Pavesi (Milan, 1814)
Premiere: Rome, Teatro Valle, January 25, 2017
Production: Houston Grand Opera, Welsh National Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Grand théâtre de Genève
Founded in 1980 and based in Montreal, the Opéra de Montréal is the largest francophone opera company in North America. Each season, close to 50,000 spectators make their way through the company’s doors. Under the direction of General Director Patrick Corrigan and Artistic Director Michel Beaulac, the company’s season is made up of four to five operas, activities and concerts by the Atelier lyrique, and outreach activities. The Opéra is a key player in the city’s economic, cultural, and social development as, each season, it maintains working relationships with over 360 local businesses, and hires no less than 800 artists and craftspeople. Close to 80% of the artists appearing at the company are Canadian.