Cinderellaby Gioachino Rossini
October 30, November 2, 4, 6 and 7, 2010
A rollicking rendition of a fairy tale favorite.
Sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage.
Estimated run time, including intermission is 3 hours and 1 minute.
Dates + Performancesat Ordway. Get directions
*Section F is Partial View. Stage and/or surtitles may be partially obstructed from seats in this area.
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In a hall of Don Magnifico's castle, his vain and demanding daughters Clorinda and Tisbe are busy primping. Their stepsister, Angelina (known as Cenerentola), consoles herself with a song about a king who chose a kind-hearted bride rather than a rich one. A beggar (actually Prince Ramiro's tutor Alidoro) comes in; Angelina gives him some coffee and bread, angering the stepsisters. The prince's courtiers enter, announcing the imminent arrival of the prince himself - that evening at a palace ball, he will choose the most beautiful woman among the guests as his wife. The ensuing excitement generates great confusion. The knights leave and so does the "beggar," foretelling that Angelina will be happy the next day.
Quarreling for the privilege of telling their father the good news, Clorinda and Tisbe accidentally awaken him. Don Magnifico interprets a dream he was just having as a prediction of his fortune: the impoverished baron's vision of himself as grandfather of kings is apparently confirmed by his daughters' announcement.
Prince Ramiro, having decided to explore the situation incognito, has exchanged clothing with his servant, Dandini. Alidoro has advised him that kindness, truth and virtue can be found in this home. When the disguised prince enters the house, he and Angelina instantly fall in love. Dandini arrives, awkwardly playing the prince, and Clorinda and Tisbe are introduced to him. Angelina begs her stepfather to take her to the ball, but Magnifico orders her to stay at home. Alidoro, with a list of the unmarried women in the city, asks Don Magnifico about a third daughter, but Magnifico quickly covers his tracks, stating that she is dead. After everyone has left, Alidoro returns in finer apparel and invites Angelina to the ball, alluding to a change in her fortunes. He supplies an elegant dress and jewelry so that she may be appropriately attired.
At the palace, Dandini, still disguised as the prince, appoints Magnifico his wine steward if he can successfully taste all the wines in the cellar and still remain sober. Magnifico rises to the challenge and proclaims new drinking laws: wine shall no longer be mixed with water. Clorinda and Tisbe each vie for the prince's attention – Clorinda is the eldest, therefore, more suitable for marriage, but Tisbe counters that she, as the younger one, shall not age as quickly. Ramiro confers with Dandini – Alidoro said that a daughter of Magnifico would be the one, yet both girls are equally repellent. Dandini further tests them – he shall select one sister to be his queen, the other shall marry his valet (that is, Ramiro). Both Clorinda and Tisbe are disgusted by the mere suggestion of marrying beneath their station, should they not win the prince, and rebuke the offer. All are enchanted by the sudden arrival of a mysterious lady. When she unveils herself they are struck by her uncanny resemblance to someone very familiar.
From a discreet distance the courtiers laugh at the sisters' distress. Magnifico imagines himself in the privileged position as the prince's father-in-law, making money in exchange for granting favors. Angelina enters, with Dandini in an amorous pursuit. Hiding nearby Ramiro overhears her refusal of the poseur's attentions because she loves his valet. Overjoyed, Ramiro asks her to be his bride, but departing, she gives him one of her bracelets, stating that if he can find her wearing its twin, she will marry him. Ramiro reassumes his princely role, and gathering his courtiers, determines to look for Angelina at once. Dandini encourages Magnifico's fantasies, and then reveals his real identity, much to the baron's ire. He blusters out of the room.
Returning home, the sisters find Angelina by the fire and berate her incessantly for looking like the beautiful lady at the ball. Alidoro arranges an accident for the prince's carriage, which overturns in front of the house during rather serendipitously inclement weather. Angelina and Ramiro recognize one another, and he matches the bracelet to its mate, proclaiming her as his bride. Angelina goes to embrace her awestruck family, but is rebuked. Angered, Ramiro whisks Angelina away, while Alidoro suggests the sisters ask for forgiveness so as to avoid ruin. Tisbe is the first to accept the situation.
At the wedding banquet, Angelina intercedes with the prince for Magnifico and her stepsisters, offering as her "vendetta" their pardon. She revels in her newly found happiness.
|music by Gioachino Rossini|
|libretto by Jacopo Ferretti|
|after Charles Perrault's Cendrillon|
|World Premiere at the Teatro Valle, Rome|
|January 25, 1817|
|Sung in Italian with English captions|
|Stage Director and Choreographer
|Set Designer||Erhard Rom|
|Costume Designer||James Schuette|
|Lighting Designer||Jane Cox|
|La Cenerentola (Angelina), Don Magnifico's stepdaughter||Roxana Constantinescu|
|Don Ramiro, Prince of Salerno||John Tessier|
|Dandini, valet to Don Ramiro||Andrew Wilkowske
Don Magnifico, Baron of Monte Fiascone
|Clorinda, his daughter||Angela Mortellaro|
|Tisbe, his daughter||Victoria Vargas|
|Alidoro, tutor to Don Ramiro||Daniel Mobbs
|gentlemen of the Prince's court|
|Don Magnifico's mansion and the court of Don Ramiro|
Roxana Constantinescu (Angelina)
Mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu had already enjoyed several earlier competition successes in Belgium, Romania, Munich and Cologne, but it was as the winner of the prestigious ARD Music Competition in September 2006 that her international career was launched. Ms Constantinescu subsequently joined the Ensemble at Vienna's State Opera in the 2007–2008 season making her house debut as Cherubino/Le nozze di Figaro, conducted by Seiji Ozawa.
In Vienna, where Roxana remained in the ensemble through the end of the 2009–2010 season, further roles and experience to date have included Zerlina/Don Giovanni; Rosina/Il barbiere di Siviglia; Siébel/Faust; Stéphano/Roméo et Juliette; Lola/Cavalleria rusticana; Nicklausse/Les contes d'Hoffmann; Dryade/Ariadne auf Naxos and Fjodor/Boris Godunov.
After another prize-winning success at Italy's "Tito Schipa" Singing Competition, Roxana Constantinescu was invited to make her debut as Angelina/La Cenerentola at the Teatro Politeama di Lecce and went on to appear as Rosina/Il barbiere di Siviglia at Austria's Tirol Festival. It was also as Rosina that Roxana enjoyed great acclaim in Cologne when she took over their opening night at short notice in September 2007.
Other operatic appearances to date have included Ramiro/La finta giardiniera and Hermia/A Midsummer Night's Dream at Munich's Prinzregententheater; Conception/L'heure espagnole at Italy's Teatro Diego Fabbri; Holofernes/Juditha Triumphans at Munich's House of Art and Prince Orlovsky/Die Fledermaus at both Bucharest's State Opera and Essen's Philharmonie.
As a concert singer, Roxana Constantinescu is in high demand and has recently debuted at Carnegie Hall and Chicago's Symphony Hall singing Stravinsky's Pulcinella with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Boulez. Roxana enjoys an ongoing relationship with Helmuth Rilling and has performed with him around the world in music by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Other conductors with whom Roxana Constantinescu has collaborated include Gerd Albrecht, Christoph Poppen, Marco Armiliato, Manfred Honeck, Kirill Petrenko, Yannik Nézet-Séguin, Sebastian Weigle and Franz Welser-Möst.
Also an avid recitalist Roxana Constantinescu has performed in Bucharest, Vienna, Frankfurt, Munich, Wiesbaden and Washington as well as extensively in the Far East. In the current season she will be presented in recital at Vienna's famous Musikverein as well as in Goethe's house in Weimar. Even at this early stage in her career, Roxana Constantinescu has already participated in numerous recordings for Haenssler Classic, OEHMS Classics, SWR, Artmode Records, Weltbild and Carus Verlag.
Born in Bucharest, Roxana Constantinescu firstly studied percussion and piano at the George Enescu Music Academy, continuing with voice studies at the National University of Music. In 2003 she was awarded an Erasmus Scholarship to attend Vienna's prestigious University of Music and Fine Arts, and a DAAD scholarship enabled her to attend Postgraduate Studies at the University of Music and Theater in Munich with Edith Wiens.
The current season brings a number of important house and role debuts: La Cenerentola at the Minnesota Opera, Dorabella/Così fan tutte and Fatima/Oberon at the Theatre du Capitole, Stéphano/Roméo et Juliette at the Dallas Opera and Donna Elvira in the new production of Don Giovanni at the Vienna State Opera, conducted by Franz Welser-Moest.
Jane Cox (lighting designer)
Jane Cox is a lighting designer based in New York City. Previous work with Doug Varone includes Faust and Joseph Merrick dit Elephant Man at Minnesota Opera, and many designs for Doug Varone and Dancers (including Chapters and Boats Leaving, for which she was awarded a Bessie in 2007). For Minnesota Opera, Jane has also designed Lakmé and for New York City Opera, she designed Don Giovanni. For Broadway, her work includes Come Back Little Sheba. Other New York theater includes designs for the Public Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music; Playwrights Horizons; Signature Theatre; NYTW. Jane also designed for the Guthrie, McCarter, Glimmerglass Opera and Juilliard Opera, among many others. She also teaches lighting design at Princeton University and Vassar College. She is currently working on Lucia di Lammermoor for Houston Grand Opera and Opera Australia.
Donato DiStefano (Don Magnifico)
One of the most sought after buffo basses in the opera world, Donato DiStefano was heard in the 2008–2009 season as Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola at La Monnaie in Brussels and L'Opéra National de Lorraine in Nancy, in the title role of Gianni Schicchi in Frankfurt, and as Don Basilio in Leipzig. In the 2009–2010 season, he was heard at the Dallas Opera as Don Pasquale, the Metropolitan Opera for Gianni Schicchi, and the Washington National Opera as Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Future engagements include a return to the Canadian Opera Company as Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola and Gianni Schicchi, Rossini's Bartolo in Leipzig and Hamburg, Don Magnfico and Mustafa in L'italiana in Algeri in Nancy, and his debuts at San Diego Opera as Sulpice in La fille du régiment and the Minnesota Opera as Don Magnifico.
In the past three seasons Mr. DiStefano has been heard as Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia in Toronto and L'Opéra de Montreal, in Dallas as Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola and Dr. Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, with the Florida Grand Opera as Don Pasquale, in Tel Aviv as Gianni Schicchi, and made his Metropolitan Opera New York, debut as Simone in Gianni Schicchi. In the 2005–2006 season, Mr. DiStefano was Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola at the Dallas Opera and the Michigan Opera Theatre, was in Amsterdam and Tokyo, under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, as Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and was Don Magnifico in Trieste. In 2004–2005, he appeared as Fra Melitone in La forza del destino at the Frankfurt Opera, Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia in Amsterdam, Don Magnifico in Milwaukee and Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro in Florence.
Some significant performances DiStefano have included the protagonist in the world premiere of Hanjo by Marcello Panni produced by Bob Wilson at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro in Salzburg conducted by Nicolaus Harnoncourt and staged by Luc Bondy, Simone in Gianni Schicchi and Fedora at the Teatro alla Scala under Giannandrea Gavazzeni, Mustafà in L'italiana in Algeri at the Rossini Opera Festival and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Uberto in La serva padrona at the Théâtre la Monnaie in Brussels conducted by Sigiswald Kuijken, Il turco in Italia at the Teatro alla Scala under Riccardo Chailly, Dulcamara in L'elisir d'amore at the New Israeli Opera and the Teatro Comunale di Firenze.
Donato DiStefano's discography includes two recordings of La serva padrona, with La Petite Bande conducted by Sigiswald Kuijken for Accent Live, and one under Gustav Kuhn for Ricordi-Bmg. A broadcast production of the same title for RAI International is slated for release on DVD. He can also be heard as Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro on Naxos, La traviata with Zubin Mehta on Philips, Rendine's Un segreto di importanza for Ricordi, Linda di Chamounix on Frequenz and Soliva's Giulio e Sesto Pompeo for the Radio Svizzera Italiana label.
Donato DiStefano was nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award in 1998–1999 for Oustanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role-Musical) for his performances as Don Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Canadian Opera in Toronto.
Donato DiStefano is the winner of various international vocal competitions including the «Giuseppe Verdi» Competition in Parma, the As.Li.Co. in Milan and the «Mario del Monaco» in Castelfranco Veneto, Mattia Battistini in Rieti.
Christopher Franklin (conductor)
"… relishing their respective mercurial natures (Chabrier's Une éducation manquée and Rossini's Il cambiale di matrimonio for the Wexford Festival), Christopher Franklin conducts both with engaging momentum in streams of stylish phrasing ..." – Irish Independent, October 24, 2009
Since having started his career in Italy, Christopher Franklin has conducted at several of the major Italian opera houses and festivals – he has conducted at the Teatro Regio di Torino, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, the Teatro Massimo di Palermo, the Teatro Piccolo alla Scala di Milano, the Teatro Comunale di Treviso, Teatro Verdi di Salerno, Teatro Pergolesi di Jesi, the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and the Spontini Festival in Jesi.
Equally at home on the concert stage, he has conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the National Philharmonic of Russia, a German tour with the Münchner Symphoniker, SWR Orchester in Germany, Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Firenze, Orchestre de la Monnaie in Bruxelles, Orchestra de Comunitat di Valencia, Orchestra de la Navarra (Spain), Sinfonieorchester St. Gallen, Orchestra Verdi di Milan, Orchestra della Toscana, Orchestra Filarmonica dell'Arena di Verona, Orchestra '900 of the Teatro Regio di Torino, Orchestra Toscanini of Parma, Orchestra of the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, Orchestra da Camera di Padova, I Pomeriggi Musicali of Milano and the Accademia della Scala di Milano.
He has toured with tenor Juan Diego Florez the last few seasons at the following venues: Konzerthaus Wien, Herkulessaal München, Alte Oper-Frankfurt, Philharmonie-Köln, Teatre Champs-Elysees-Paris, Musikhalle-Hamburg, Festspielhaus-Baden Baden, Konzerthaus-Dortmund, Cadogan Hall-London, Palau des Arts-Valencia, Carnival Center-Miami, International House of Music-Moscow, Dvorak Hall-Prague, and is scheduled for several upcoming tours (Germany, Austria, Spain, France, the United States and South America).
Recent opera productions include Britten's Death in Venice at Opera de Belles Artes in Mexico City, a new production of Attila in Lima, Peru, with Adbrazakov, Theodossiou; Le Comte Ory at the National Opera of Greece in Athens, at the Rossini Festival in Wildbad, Germany where he conducted L'amore coniugale by Johann Simon Mayr (recently released on the Naxos label), Rossini's La cambiale di matrimonio and La gazzetta (both scheduled for CD-DVD release).
Upcoming engagements include Chabrier's Une éducation manquée and Rossini's La cambiale di matrimonio at the Wexford Festival, a new production of Sweeney Todd at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Lehar's The Merry Widow at both the Teatro San Carlo di Napoli and Carlo Felice di Genova, symphonic concerts with the the Filarmonica Toscanini in Parma, the Swiss Radio Symphony Orchestra in Lugano, the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova and a new production of La Cenerentola at Minnesota Opera.
An active advocate of contemporary music, Mr. Franklin has conducted the premieres of several important works in Italy – the Clarinet Concerto, the opera La lupa and ballet Dylan Dog by Italian composer Marco Tutino, symphonic works by Australian composers Ross Edwards (Symphony No. 3) and Marcus Lentz (Ngangkar), and for the past two years the International Composition Competition Alfredo Casella in Siena with the Orchestra della Toscana.
Winner of the Gino Marinuzzi International Conducting Competition, he worked as assistant to Gianluigi Gelmetti at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Teatro alla Scala, Covent Garden, La Fenice-Venice, and the Münchner Philharmoniker, among others. As winner of the conducting competition Toti dal Monte-La Bottega in Treviso, Franklin was named Resident Conductor and assistant to Peter Maag at the Teatro Comunale di Treviso. He also attended the conducting class of Gianluigi Gelmetti at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena where he was awarded the prestigious Franco Ferrara Prize.
He began studying the violin at the age of 6 in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa. After completing a BA in violin and German literature, he earned his MM in conducting at the University of Illinois and his DMA at the Peabody Conservatory with Frederik Prausnitz. He was awarded a scholarship to study at the Tanglewood Music Center, where he worked with Seiji Ozawa, Robert Spano and Gustav Meier, and subsequently, a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Musikhochschule in Saarbrücken. He began his conducting studies with Charles Bruck at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Hancock, USA. Christopher lives in Lucca, Italy.
Daniel Mobbs (Alidoro)
Daniel Mobbs begins the 2010-2011 season with his role debut as Alidoro in La Cenerentola with Minnesota Opera. He later sings Capulet in a new production of Roméo et Juliette at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, directed by Manfred Schweigkofler. Following this appearance, Mr. Mobbs returns to Opera Orchestra of New York for Don Pedro in Meyerbeer's L'Africaine, sings Giorgio in I puritani with Knoxville Opera, and returns to Opera Company of Philadelphia for Angelotti in Tosca. Future seasons include returns to Portland Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Caramoor International Music Festival.
In the summer of 2009, Mr. Mobbs bowed as Assur in Semiramide at Caramoor International Music Festival. At the Bard SummerScape Festival, he participated in a concert of Wagner arias with the American Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Leon Botstein. In the fall of 2009, Mr. Mobbs joined Boston Lyric Opera, adding the role of Escamillo in Carmen to his vast repertoire, followed by a gala concert with the Collegiate Chorale to celebrate the appointment of new Music Director James Bagwell. The spring found him as Leporello in Don Giovanni with Virginia Opera, Ormonte in Partenope at New York City Opera and Dandini in La Cenerentola with Washington Concert Opera. He later collaborated with the New York Choral Society for Mozart's Requiem and James DeMars' Tito's Say. In the summer of 2010, Mr. Mobbs appeared for his eleventh consecutive season with the Caramoor International Music Festival, this time in the role of Oroveso in Bellini's Norma.
In the summer of 2008, Mr. Mobbs sang Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Caramoor International Music Festival. In the 2008–2009 season, he bowed as the title role of Le nozze di Figaro with Palm Beach Opera and Leporello in Don Giovanni with New Orleans Opera.
The 2007–2008 season brought a wealth of interesting and challenging roles to Daniel Mobbs, including Baritone No. 1 (the Cold Genius of Winter) in Purcell's King Arthur at New York City Opera, an appearance at the Opera Orchestra of New York's Gala 100th Performance Concert at Carnegie Hall, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette at Baltimore Opera, Capellio in Bianca e Falliero at Washington Concert Opera, the tile role in Guillaume Tell at the National Opera (Warsaw), and a soloist in Brahms' Requiem at Carnegie Hall. (Bianca e Falliero marks the fourth time Daniel Mobbs has performed a Rossini opera with Vivica Genaux!)
Mr. Mobbs has also enjoyed a long relationship with the Caramoor International Music Festival. In recent seasons he has been seen as Lycomedes in Handel's Deidamia, in the American premiere of Donizetti's Elisabetta, Ernesto in Il pirata, Elmiro in Rossini's Otello, Lodovico in Verdi's Otello and recitals entitled Shakespeare's Songs and Love, Death, Heaven and Hell.
Past performances include: his Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2003–2004 season as Cascada in performances of The Merry Widow followed by Yamadori in Madama Butterfly, Lakmé with Baltimore Opera and Finzi's In terra pax with the New York Choral Society; Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with New York City Opera, Kentucky Opera, Arizona Opera, the Spier Festival in South Africa and Baltimore Opera, where he has also sung Dandini in La Cenerentola. He has also bowed in Turandot with the Washington National Opera and Pittsburgh Opera. Other credits include Taddeo in L'italiana in Algeri, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and Ping in Turandot with New York City Opera; Papageno with Washington National Opera; Dominik in Arabella with Santa Fe Opera; Valentin in Faust with Grand Rapids; Danilo in The Merry Widow with Shreveport Opera; Belcore in L'elisir d'amore with Kentucky Opera; and Sid in Albert Herring with both Cleveland Opera and Kentucky Opera.
Orchestral credits include the Fauré Requiem with the Pacific Symphony; Carmina burana with the symphonies of Kalamazoo, Nashville, Knoxville and Grand Rapids, the Messiah with Chattanooga Symphony, and Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Nashville Symphony.
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, his awards include first place in both the College Division of the MacAllister Awards and the Mario Lanza Scholarship. He is a winner of the Sullivan Foundation Award and also a recipient of a grant from the Puccini Foundation. In 2008, New York City Opera awarded him the Kolozsvar Award, recognizing his "memorable performance of multiple roles in Purcell's King Arthur." He is a graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.
Angela Mortellaro (Clorinda)
Soprano Angela Mortellaro joins the Minnesota Opera's Resident Artist program in 2010–2011, singing the roles of Amore in Orpheus and Eurydice, Clorinda in Cinderella and Annina in La traviata and the Offstage Voice in Wuthering Heights. This year, Ms. Mortellaro has sung the role of Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with both PORTOpera and Sarasota Opera. Last summer she was a Chautauqua Opera Apprentice Artist, performing the roles of Edith in The Pirates of Penzance and Anna Gomez in The Consul. For Orlando Opera Company, she sang Sister Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, Sally in Die Fledermaus and Clorinda in La Cenerentola. The soprano also appeared as Clorinda for Aspen Opera Theatre as well as Frasquita in its production of Carmen. Internationally, she has performed Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro for Operafestival di Roma.
Ms. Mortellaro has a master of music degree in vocal performance from Rice University (Houston, Texas), where she sang Diana in La Calisto, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Sandrina in La finta giardiniera and the Governess in The Turn of the Screw. She completed her bachelor of music degree at the University of Wisconsin (Whitewater).
Erhard Rom (set designer)
Erhard Rom has designed over 150 productions across North America, including the recent Canadian premiere of John Adam's opera Nixon in China. His designs have been featured in the Prague Quadrennial, an internationally recognized Scenographic and Architectural exhibition. Some of his most recent projects include: La bohème for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Così fan tutte and Ariadne auf Naxos for Wolf Trap Opera, Don Giovanni and The Tales of Hoffmann for Virginia Opera and Rusalka for Minnesota Opera. His work includes numerous engagements with Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Virginia Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Minnesota Opera, Syracuse Stage and Geva Theatre Center. Other theater companies he has worked for include: Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Folger Shakespeare Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre and Woolly Mammoth Theatre. He has also designed for Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kentucky Opera, Opera Cleveland, Manhattan School of Music, ABC Television, and BARD Summerscape. He received the tribute to classical arts award for creative achievement in opera in 1999 and 2003 for his work at the New Orleans Opera including the world premiere of the opera Pontalba by Thea Musgrave. Mr. Rom received his M.F.A. in Design from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He is a member of USA Local 829.
James Schuette (costume designer)
James Schuette's work includes set designs for Time to Burn, Space, Berlin Circle, The Royal Family (Jeff Award) and Homebody/Kabul, as well as costume designs for Mother Courage, After The Quake, Purple Heart and Time of Your Life (Steppenwolf); Julius Caeser at the American Repertory Theatre; Of Thee I Sing directed by Tina Landau (Papermill Playhouse); Frank Galati's Oedipus Complex (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Casanova's Homecoming (Minnesota Opera; Opera Theatre of St. Louis), Un ballo in maschera (Opera Colorado; Minnesota Opera; Boston Lyric Opera); Nixon in China directed by James Robinson (Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Minnesota Opera); Intimations for Saxophone directed by Anne Bogart (Arena Stage); and Doug Varone's Deconstructing English. Other opera credits include Giulio Cesare at Houston Grand Opera; La bohème, Drattell's Lillith and Weill's Seven Deadly Sins at New York City Opera; Rigoletto, The Marriage of Figaro, The Barber of Seville, Hansel and Gretel and Sweeney Todd at Opera Colorado; Carmen at Santa Fe Opera; La bohème at Glimmerglass Opera; and Joseph Merrick dit Elephant Man (Minnesota Opera). His work has been seen at the Goodman Theatre, Old Globe Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Seattle Rep, A.C.T., Long Wharf, Yale Rep, Prince Music Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, New York Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theatre, Glimmerglass Opera, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, New York City Opera and Santa Fe Opera.
John Tessier (Don Ramiro)
On the international stages of opera, concert, and recital, Canadian John Tessier has gained attention and praise for the beauty and honesty of his voice, for a refined style and creative versatility, and for his handsome, youthful presence in the lyric tenor repertoire. The Juno Award winning artist has worked with many of the most notable conductors of our day including Lorin Maazel, Leonard Slatkin, Plácido Domingo, John Nelson, Franz Welser-Möst, Donald Runnicles, Robert Spano, and Bernard Labadie.
A busy 2010–2011 season sees John Tessier as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni for his South American debut at the Teatro Colón with conductor John Neschling, as Narraboth in a concert presentation of Salome at the Verbier Festival conducted Valery Gergiev, and as Count Almaviva in a new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia at Grand Théâtre de Genève under the baton of Alberto Zedda. In North America, John Tessier joins the Minnesota Opera as Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola, debuts at Seattle Opera as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, and assays the title role of La clemenza di Tito at Vancouver Opera. His demanding concert schedule includes performances of Berlioz' L'enfance du Christ under Serge Baudo with the Orchestre National de Lyon, Carmina burana with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra, and Rossini's Stabat mater in a return engagement with Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst.
During the 2009–2010 season, John Tessier's operatic diary included Die Zauberflöte with Opera Lyra Ottawa under Pinchas Zukerman and at L'Opéra de Montréal, Nemorino in a new Jonathan Miller production of The Elixir of Love at English National Opera, and Laërte in Hamlet – sharing the stage with Elizabeth Futral and Samuel Ramey – in a return engagement at Washington National Opera conducted by Plácido Domingo. The artist's concert schedule brought him to the Philadelphia Orchestra for Berlioz' Te Deum under the direction of Charles Dutoit and to Vienna, Paris, Frankfurt, Cologne, and Milan on a tour presentation of Handel's Messiah with Emmanuelle Haïm and Le Concert d'Astrée.
On the opera stage John Tessier has sung Don Giovanni for his debut at the Washington National Opera, Der fliegende Holländer at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, conducted by Marc Albrecht, Il viaggio a Reims at Oper Frankfurt, I Capuleti e i Montecchi for Glimmerglass Opera and The Barber of Seville for English National Opera, New York City Opera, Edmonton Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, L'Opéra de Québec, and in a new Leon Major production at Glimmerglass Opera. He has bowed in L'elisir d'amore at the New York City Opera, Lakmé for the operas of Calgary and Edmonton, La Cenerentola at Glimmerglass Opera, Così fan tutte at Vancouver Opera and in a new production by Tim Albery at Glimmerglass Opera, Don Pasquale with Opera Lyra Ottawa and Arizona Opera, The Merry Widow with L'Opéra de Montréal, L'Italiana in Algeri, Dialogues des Carmélites, Don Giovanni and La fille du régiment at Vancouver Opera, Don Giovanni, Falstaff and Acis and Galatea at New York City Opera, Il re pastore at the Mostly Mozart Festival, Die Zauberflöte with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Edmonton Opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail with L'Opéra de Québec, Little Women with Minnesota Opera, and Haydn's Orlando paladino and Handel's Imeneo at Glimmerglass Opera.
Symphonic performances of the recent past have included John Corigliano's A Dylan Thomas Trilogy with Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony (recorded and commercially available on Naxos), Stephen Paulus' To Be Certain of the Dawn with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra (recorded and commercially available on BIS Records), Berlioz' L'enfance du Christ under the baton of John Nelson in Spain, Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with Carl St. Clair and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with Itzhak Perlman and the Russian National Orchestra at Festival of the Arts Boca, Haydn's Mass in the Time of War with Bernard Labadie and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Mozart's Requiem with Donald Runnicles and the Orchestra of Saint Luke's at Carnegie Hall, Mozart's Mass in C with Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, Schumann's Scenes from Goethe's Faust with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra, and Haydn's The Creation with Jane Glover and Chicago's Music of the Baroque and with John Nelson and Ensemble Orchestral de Paris. He has given performances of Messiah with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Carmina burana and Szymanowski's Symphony No. 3 with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Mozart Requiem with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (recorded and commercially available on Telarc), Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Bach's St. Matthew Passion with Nicholas McGegan and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Victoria Vargas (Tisbe)
Mezzo-soprano Victoria Vargas completed her master of music degree from Manhattan School of Music this past May, where she appeared as Euryclée in Fauré's Pénélope, and the Beggar and Mrs. Peachum in The Beggar's Opera. Other credits include Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro for Ash Lawn Opera and Martina Arroyo's Prelude to Performance; the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, the title role in Carmen and Dorabella in Così fan tutte for Hillman Opera; Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music for Lyric Arts International; and Miss Todd in The Old Main and the Thief for Fredonia Opera Theater.
Ms. Vargas has been a young artist at Sarasota Opera, where she covered the role of Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria rusticana. She covered the same role at Chautauqua Opera last summer, won the opera company's Guild Studio Artist Award and has been invited back as an Apprentice Artist. For her first season as a Minnesota Opera Resident Artist, Ms. Vargas will sing Tisbe in Cinderella, Anna in Maria Stuarda, Flora in La traviata and Nelly in Wuthering Heights.
Doug Varone (stage director)
Award-winning choreographer and director Doug Varone works in dance, theater, opera, film, television and fashion. He is a passionate educator and articulate advocate for dance. By any measure, his work is extraordinary for its emotional range, kinetic breadth and the many arenas in which he works.
His New York City-based Doug Varone and Dancers has been commissioned and presented to critical acclaim by leading international venues for more than two decades. In 2008, Varone's Bottomland, set in the Mammoth Caves of Kentucky, was the subject of the PBS Dance in America's Wolf Trap's Face of America.
In opera, Varone is in demand as a director and choreographer. Among his four productions at the Metropolitan Opera include Salome with its sensational Dance of the Seven Veils for Karita Mattila, and the world premiere of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy. He has staged multiple premieres and new productions for Minnesota Opera and Opera Colorado and choreographed for Washington Opera and New York City Opera, among others. Varone is a frequent collaborator of composer Ricky Ian Gordon: choreography, The Grapes of Wrath (2008); direction and choreography, Orpheus and Euridice for Lincoln Center (2006 Obie Award). The two are at work on a new opera about the US Civil War commissioned by the Virginia Festival of the Arts and University of TX/Austin.
Doug Varone's numerous theater credits include choreography for Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theaters across the country. He staged several seasons of designer Geoffrey Beene's NYC couture runway shows. Film credits include choreography for the Patrick Swayze film, One Last Dance.
Varone has also created works for the Limon Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Rambert Dance Company (London), Dancemakers (Canada), Batsheva Dance Company (Israel), Bern Ballet (Switzerland) and An Creative (Japan), among others. His dances have been staged on more than 30 college and university programs. Varone received his BFA from Purchase College, where he was awarded the Presidential Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. Honors also include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two American Dance Festival Doris Duke Awards for New Work, three from the National Dance Project and two New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessies) - for Sustained Achievement in Choreography, and for his 2006 Boats Leaving.
Andrew Wilkowske (Dandini)
Andrew Wilkowske – when singing a "virile, sturdy Marcello" or a "garrulous yet endearing" Papageno – displays an engaging combination of musical talent and masterful stage presence. Wilkowske, whose voice has been described as "nimble," with an "impressively open top," is one of the most versatile performers on the stage today. A gifted actor as well as singer, Wilkowske's Papageno in The Magic Flute "stole the show" according to the Washington Post, and was a "lusty-voiced fellow," according to Opera News.
Engagements this season include Our Basic Nature, a chamber opera by John Glover and Kelley Rourke for American Opera Projects, Kaiser Overall in Der Kaiser von Atlantis with Boston Lyric Opera, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera on the James, Songs of Travel with the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra and Carmina burana with the Minnesota Orchestra, under the baton of Osmo Vänksä.
Widely known for his expertise in modern repertoire, Wilkowske recently reprised the role of Noah in The Grapes of Wrath with the Collegiate Chorale at Carnegie Hall. As a member of the Minnesota Opera world premiere cast in 2007 he was featured on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show and the complete recording of the opera available on P.S. Classics. In addition, he recently covered the role of Casanova in Minnesota Opera's 25th Anniversary production of Dominick Argento's Casanova's Homecoming, sang the role of Geppetto in Jonathan Dove's The Adventures of Pinocchio, and Henry Kissinger in Nixon in China with Minnesota Opera and sang in performances of the North American premiere of Howard Shore's The Fly at Los Angeles Opera, conducted by Placido Domingo.
Other recent engagements include his debut as Rossini's Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Skylight Opera. He returned to Skylight Opera in the title role of Le nozze di Figaro. Other Figaro appearances include Nozze with Green Mountain Opera Festival (under the baton of Jacques Lacombe), Ashlawn Opera and the Acadiana Symphony. Wilkowske's experiences are documented in his award-winning "A Year of Figaro" blog.
Active on the musical theater stage, Wilkowske's performance in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris was called "chilling" and "deeply moving" by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and his performance in the world premiere of Sleeping Beauty with the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati earned him a nomination for a Cincinnati Entertainment Award.
Wilkowske has participated in the Merola Opera Program, Glimmerglass Opera's Young American Artist Program and the Minnesota Opera Resident Artist Program. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Gioachino Rossini composed La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo (Cinderella, or Goodness Triumphant) during an especially busy period that followed the premiere of Il barbiere di Siviglia in February 1816. He was still under contract at the Neapolitan Royal Theaters and had to return for the production of two further works, La gazzetta (September 26, 1816) and Otello (December 4, 1816). The Naples theater impresario, Domenico Barbaja, had the good sense to give Rossini some latitude in their agreement, and the composer had (unwisely) made another commitment in Rome, this time to the rival Teatro Valle's impresario, Pietro Cartoni, to start the Carnival season on December 26. As Otello had just opened earlier that month, Rossini was in a tight spot, as no libretto had been written, nor had a subject even been chosen.
At first he and librettist Jacopo Ferretti turned to Ninette à la cour, a French comedy inspired by the licentious behavior of infamous womanizer François I (who also would become the model for Giuseppe Verdi's Duke of Mantua). And much like Rigoletto would later do, Ninette became a touchy issue with the especially prickly Roman censors. As the deadline was quickly approaching, Cartoni, Rossini and Ferretti sat up late one night brainstorming over hot toddies. After 20 various suggestions, Ferretti proposed Cenerentola, which seemed to peak Rossini's interest. The librettist traded his cocktail for some black coffee and worked up a scenario that very night.
Of course, all parties knew of a Cenerentola that had premiered in Milan just two and a half years before – Rossini had had two operas produced at the Teatro alla Scala during the same season and happened to be there in April 1814 when the work had its premiere. The opera in question was Agatina, ovvero la virtù premiata by Stefano Pavesi, itself a copy of Nicolò Isouard's Cendrillon, which had recently opened in Paris. All of this was commonplace, as copyright had yet to become a real legal issue – one only had to live with verbal charges of plagiarism and general discontent among the parties involved. The enterprising Rossini would raid and eclipse Pavesi a total of five times during his career, in each instance producing a vastly superior work.
Time was of the essence. Cartoni managed to postpone the opening to the end of January, but the production was still a formidable undertaking, with both composition and rehearsals to take place in just one month. Ferretti may have had an extant libretto from which to pillage, but Rossini also had a few shortcuts at his disposal. Another composer, Luca Agolini, was brought in to compose the recitatives and to contribute two arias, Clorinda's "Sventurata! mi credea" and Alidoro's "Vasto teatro è il mondo" (revised by Rossini in 1821 to become "Là del ciel nell'arcano profondo"), and the chorus "Ah! della bella incognita." Rossini also ravaged his other operas for material - from the failed La gazzetta (which likely wouldn't be seen again) he borrowed the overture, and from Barbiere he assimilated the notoriously difficult (and often cut) Almaviva cabaletta from the end of Act ii, "Ah, il più lieto," which he had composed for the celebrated tenor Manuel García. Transposed and embellished further, the aria became the title character's brilliant rondò finale "Non più mesta."
The cast was quite tense on opening night – rehearsals had been fast and furious - and much like Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola was greeted with hostility. The composer was hardly concerned, predicting that within a year, the new opera would be popular around the world. He wasn't far off the mark, and in posterity La Cenerentola would become his second most popular opera after Barbiere, surpassing Guillaume Tell's huge following in 19th-century France. Perhaps still smarting from the initial failure of these two comic works, Rossini's interest in opera buffa began to wane – Adina (1818) is a mere one-act farce and Le Comte Ory (1829) is modeled after the French style. Even in Cenerentola we already begin to see seeds of change toward something a little more somber - the sentimental and serious young lovers in pursuit of one another, the doleful timbre of Angelina's recurrent canzone by the fire, "Una volta c'era un re," and the stoically wise and vaguely magical maneuverings of the sage filosofo Alidoro. All reach beyond the transparent playfulness of buffa style.
Literary AntecedentsBut where is the classic tale by Charles Perrault? What happened to the glass slipper, fairy godmother, pumpkin carriage and helpful rodents? As it turns out, by the first decade of the 19th century Perrault's story had already undergone significant revision. Influenced by the Enlightenment, Pavesi and Isouard's operas replaced the ethereal godmother with Alidor/Alidoro, the Prospero-like philosopher who guides the two lovers' union and transformation by way of prudent advice. It's true the magic elements exist only by the slightest implication in La Cenerentola, something that already had started to fade in Isouard and Pavesi's works - their only supernatural effect is a subtle red rose that renders Cendrillon/Agatina unrecognizable. By dispensing with that component completely, Ferretti and Rossini introduce the possibility that Angelina could be recognized by her family at the prince's ball, adding a touch of veracity, tension, and later, abuse.
Though Angelina's insistent song about a bygone king who finds his modest bride suggests a "tale-within-a-tale," La Cenerentola becomes something more substantial, a comedy of manners with some real gravity – a commedia sentimentale rather than a simple conte de fées. Still, some humorous traditions had to be preserved. Hardly evil (though at times not very pleasant) Don Magnifico is a benign replacement as the bumbling and oft-drunken stepparent, coming straight out of the Italian commedia dell'arte. His control and squander of money (and Angelina's fortune) draws an interesting parallel to Dr. Bartolo in Barbiere, though his task is much easier. He is able to snatch Cenerentola's dowry by way of their sketchy familial relationship, rather than the more time-consuming (and in Bartolo's case, fruitless) task of courtship. Dandini shares his more devious traits with the stock player Brighella, and his masquerade as well as the doubly disguised Angelina and Ramiro at the prince's ball are further commedia tricks. Patter song, a requisite of the opera buffa genre, is obliged by not one, but two arias given to Don Magnifico as well as a marvelous duet, where he faces off with his buffo adversary, Dandini. In spite of the rapid fire of Magnifico's notes, the even dramatic pacing is another aspect of the work as being both real and human – there is no fretful stroke of midnight to bring the party to a sudden end. Angelina demands the prince play according to her terms – she coquettishly initiates the contest of the search to determine if his love is genuine.
Finally, there is the absence of the glass slipper, which some say might not have been glass at all. According to those sources, the French word for glass, verre, was mistranslated from its near-homonym, vair, or "squirrel fur." This theory has since been debunked by the latter's utter lack of elegance (remember Perrault's story was originally set during the era of Louis XIV), not to mention the fur's elasticity, which could more easily adapt to a variety of foot sizes. The inflexible, more petite glass slipper reinforces a stereotype of the feminine ideal – the smaller the foot, the more beautiful (and in some cultures, the more submissive) the woman. The reason they decided to omit it? Roman decency forbade the exposure of a woman's bare ankle in the drama's penultimate scene. Ferretti and Rossini had to settle for two matching bracelets.
Isouard, Pavesi and Rossini's operas turn the story away from fantasy and emphasize its virtue – virtù, which is, in fact, spotlighted in the title of the second work and bontà (goodness) in the third. By the mid-century, Samuel Richardson's Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740) had become enormously popular throughout Europe and was tremendously influential on all the various art disciplines. Pamela is a servant in the house of B–, and it becomes quite clear early in the novel she is a person of exceptional character. Unfortunately, she attracts the attention of her mistress' son, who retains Pamela's services after his mother's death. Mr. B–'s inappropriate behavior creates discord in the household and puts the title character's reputation to the test. After a series of awkward episodes, Pamela earns her master's respect by way of her letters (which he secretly reads) and her steadfast unwillingness to submit to his amorous advances. B– acquires a greater respect for his maid, and crossing all social barriers, the couple eventually marries. As the foundations of the modern novel began to congeal, Richardson's fiction ignited a great literary controversy, with "Pamelists" and "Antipamelists" in heated debate. As a retort, John Fielding wrote two parodies, Shamela (1741) which detailed the debauched activities of its title character, and Joseph Andrews (1742), spinning Pamela's trials and surname into a male sibling version of her moral integrity trapped within a burlesque and chaotic world. In part to settle this dispute, Richardson wrote a more tragic sequel, Clarissa (1748), which involves the detention, rape and death of its honorable heroine.
Among Pamela's many stage and operatic adaptations is a libretto by buffa master (the "Italian Molière") Carlo Goldoni, set to music by Niccolò Piccinni in 1760. First appearing as a play entitled Pamela, ossia la virtù premiata (an appellation later borrowed in part by Pavesi, who would become Piccinni's student), the opera La buona figliuola tells a similar story of a low-bred, orphaned girl, Cecchina. Her employer's brother, the Marchese della Conchiglia, is fixated on the young maid, in spite of his sister's misgivings. For her part, the marchesa cannot marry her boyfriend, the Cavaliere Armidoro, if her brother marries outside his class. Though Pamela (and Cenerentola) marry above their station, things turn out in a tidy fashion for Cecchina - she is identified as a long-lost descendant of a German baron (by a birthmark on her arm, yet another commedia dell'arte trick), and everyone lives happily ever after. Piccinni's opera was immensely successful and was mounted all over Europe, becoming the most popular opera buffa of the century. La Cenerentola is thought to be a deliberate homage to the earlier work's original title, La Cecchina.
To complete the circle, a similar tale, Griselda, was treated by both Giovanni Boccaccio and Perrault, and set as an opera by Piccinni in 1793. This story also involves the cruel testing of a young maiden, this time the patience and dedication of a shepherdess, by her princely husband. The original tale was adapted by Apostolo Zeno into a libretto, which was set by a number of composers, including Antonio Vivaldi (1735), in a version revised by a young Goldoni. It precedes Richardson's novel and is believed to have provided some inspiration for the enlightened, reasonable, virginal and virtuous woman that so captivated the 18th-century imagination.
Cinderella through the ages
It appears every culture and nearly every continent has its own Cinderella story, sources as diverse as stories from the Chinese T'sang dynasty, Native American legend, Zimbabwe folklore and Russian superstition. Each is identifiable by the following criteria: a family member in a miserable state, the intervention of a helper (usually supernatural), a glimpse at a better life, recognition by some object and improvement of the condition (usually a perfect union, such as marriage). The earliest Italian version of Cinderella appears to be Giambattista Basile's Pentamerone (1634–1636), which predates Perrault's story and is strikingly similar – the French author may have had this collection in his mind when he crafted his Cendrillon. A touch more graphic, Basile's La gatta Cenerentola incorporated a murder into his tale – Zezolla/Cenerentola is encouraged by her loving governess to break her evil stepmother's neck with the lid of a chest after drawing her into a trap. The rest of the story follows the expected pattern. With Zezolla's assistance the governess becomes the new stepmother and brings to the household her previously undisclosed six daughters, who all mistreat their new stepsister. The conduit of magic is a fig tree her father brings back from Sardinia. By housing the Dove of the Fairies, the tree produces the necessary transport and clothing for a series of royal feasts. After meeting the king for a third time, Zezolla loses her slipper, and when the king summons all the women of the realm before him, the shoe magically finds its owner.
Charles Perrault came along later in the century, publishing his Les histoires ou Contes du temps passé in 1697. It is generally assumed that these are drawn from popular tradition, though Cendrillon and the other contes in the collection can be traced to earlier works by Basile and Boccaccio and to the Volsunga Saga and classical mythology. Every story ends with a moralité, a moral message. Cendrillon has two: (1) always value graciousness over beauty (2) there is advantage to good breeding and common sense (and always respect your godparents). In addition to being didactic, the tales served as propaganda for the national language - the vulgar oral tradition of the illiterate was elevated to the more aristocratic written French of the nobility. A curious aspect of Perrault's tales is that they were not necessarily conceived for children, but as divertissements, after dinner amusements for members of Louis XIV's royal entourage.
Closer to Rossini's day, folk tales would have a new revival. Brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm assembled and published their Household and Nursery Tales at the beginning of the 19th century. Again, it seems as though Grimms' Tales were not necessarily meant for a younger audience – in the brothers' original edition, nearly every story includes either suggestions of sex and incest or overtly grotesque violence. The Grimms were scientific rather than fictitious in their mission to compile German folklore, a spoken ritual once spun out at the spinning wheel, in the fields or around the fire. At first Wilhelm and Jakob demanded literary fidelity, but perhaps envisioning a greater audience for the Tales, Wilhelm became more prudish in subsequent editions while retaining much of the brutality. For instance, the stepsisters of Aschenputtel (Cinderella) cut off their toes and shave their heels in order to cram their feet into the tiny slipper. Their deception is exposed on the way to the palace when the prince notices their feet bleeding. Later, after the royal wedding feast has taken place, two doves peck out their eyes, quite literally emphasizing the brothers' recurrent theme of "an eye for an eye." In other Grimm fantasies, the protagonist doesn't always fare so well, but in the end compassion is usually rewarded while villainy is punished with a vengeance. The stories were intended to be cautionary and the lessons are typically harsh. It's hardly a surprise the Tales found their way to the nursery, not as much as for entertainment as for preparing 19th-century youngsters for the hard peasant life that awaited them. There is also the added benefit (if sometimes a vain one) that the diligently persistent moral messages may curb poor behavior – terrible things happen to rotten children.
The Grimms' version of Cinderella replaces the fairy godmother with a magic hazel tree, which houses helpful (and later punitive) turtledoves. The ball occurs over a three-day period, and though Aschenputtel gets to dance with the prince each night, she dashes off before he can learn her name. On the third night, he coats the steps with a sticky substance, hoping to ensnare her as she flees. He only gets the slipper, which in this case is gold. The sisters' self-mutilation happens to each in turn as the prince makes his rounds in search of the mystery woman, who turns out to be Aschenputtel.
Although it might be possible to connect the Italians Pavesi and Rossini and the Maltese-born, Italian-trained Isouard to Basile's Pentamerone (Isouard suggests an Italian setting by using such names as Monte Fiascone and Dandini), Perrault's Contes are generally assumed to be the antecedent of these staged works. The first known operatic treatment was a one-act vaudeville by Jean-Louis Laruette (Paris, 1759). Later, both Jules Massenet (Cendrillon; 1899) and Sergei Prokofiev (his Zolushka ballet; 1945) went in that direction, as did Pauline García Viardot, daughter of Manuel and sister to Maria Malibran. Both daughters would become great interpreters of Rossini's La Cenerentola, but when it came time to produce her own work on the same subject (Cendrillon; 1904), Viardot settled for a hybrid of the two traditions since she felt the need to incorporate the fairy godmother and glass slipper into a setting that more closely follows that of Rossini. The ballroom setting intrigued waltz king and Die Fledermaus composer Johann Strauss, who had begun a Cinderella ballet (Aschenbrödel) but died before it was completed.
On the Grimm side, German opera would be most affected – a subgenre known as Märchenoper developed in the early 19th century in the works of Carl Maria von Weber and Heinrich Marschner, among others. A parallel also can be drawn to the works of Richard Wagner as many of his subjects relied on the folk tradition, and the composer specifically drew from the Grimms' Märchen von einem, der auszog das Fürchten zu lernen for parts of Siegfried. A resurgence of Märchenoper occurred at the turn of the century, most notably in the works of Engelbert Humperdinck. Hänsel und Gretel (1893) is the most famous example; others include Die sieben Geislein (1895) and Königskinder (1910). A general trend into the early 20th century also showed an interest in the fantastic world and a disregard of historical or contemporary subjects previously enjoyed by 19th-century audiences, evidenced by musical settings of Carlo Gozzi's Turandot [set by both Ferruccio Busoni (1917) and Giacomo Puccini (1926)], and by Le rossignol (Igor Stravinsky; 1914) and Die Frau ohne Schatten (Richard Strauss; 1919), to name a few.
b Pesaro, February 29, 1792; d Passy, November 13, 1868
The most prominent Italian composer of the first half of the 19th century, Gioachino Rossini transformed the form and content of Italian opera. Though best known for his comic works – and for music that is sensuous, brilliant and rhythmically vital – Rossini’s contribution to stage works of mixed genres is equally important, making him Verdi’s most significant forerunner.
— Doug Varone, stage director and choreographer
As a movement-based artist in the opera world, I begin my process of directing new projects in much the same way: discovering a movement vocabulary or style that defines the world we are exploring, and most particularly, examining the score that shapes the drama we are hearing.
In this regard, staging an opera is very similar to choreographing a dance. If it is done very well, movement ideas are wedded beautifully to the score and can be used to tell the story in much the same way a libretto does. Great choreography does this, through structure, form and energy. How bodies are arranged on stage and then ultimately moved through space can dramatically shift the emotional balance of a scene. When I choreograph, I always strive for a true visualization of the score. By following my instinctive responses to the music, I allow myself to create a movement scenario that imaginatively brings this aural world to life. If I've done my job well, all of the action should reveal the score in a more luminous way.
Coming from the contemporary dance world, I have always utilized movement that embraces how we naturally move in our daily lives – the gestures with which we talk, running to catch a bus or simply walking down the street. Heightened and then placed in tandem with a score like Rossini's Cinderella, movement has the power to transform a static moment into something magical. Everything is musical, from the smallest handhold to the largest jump.
For this production of Cinderella, I have been smitten with a glorious sense of fairy tale. I've been in touch with my inner child in directing this terrific cast and in doing so, have remembered what it was like to be an innocent in the world, when the most important aspect of life was about imagination and wonder. Hopefully we've created an evening that surprises and delights and takes your memories back in time to less-complicated days.
The Great Composers: Rossini.
Nicholas John (editor)
English National Opera Guide No. 1: La Cenerentola.
The Bel Canto Composers.
Cambridge Guide to Rossini.
Didonato, Praticò, Zapata
Zedda; SWR Orchestra Kaiserslautern
Berganza, Alva, Capecchi, Montarsolo, Trama
Bartoli, Costa, Banditelli, Matteuzzi, Pertusi
Ravaglia, Valentini-Terrani, Araiza, Dara, Trimarchi
To Learn More …
A class devoted to Cinderella will be held on Monday, October 18, 2010, from 7:00–9:00 p.m. at the Minnesota Opera Center. The discussion will be led by Daniel Freeman.