‘Cendrillon’: A fairy tale ending to the Met Opera season
Special to the Daily
Jules Massenet’s four-act opera, “Cendrillon” (Cinderella), will be the last performance of the 2017–18 season Metropolitan Opera High Definition Opera broadcasts, at the Breckenridge Colorado Mountain College campus on Saturday beginning at 10:55 a.m.
For the first time, Massenet’s sumptuous take on the Cinderella story comes to the Metropolitan Opera stage. As written by the 18th century French author Charles Perrault, his tale of the Cinderella story has served as an excellent source for an opera — providing color, romance and relatable themes for audiences of all ages. This opera, renamed “Cendrillon,” includes many moments in which Massenet is at his best, where color, romance and related musical themes serve audiences of all ages.
The opera opens in the salon of Madame de la Haltière, an imperious countess, the wife of Pandolfe, a country gentleman now in his second marriage. Madame de la Haltière is seen with her daughters, Noémie and Dorothée, preparing to attend a lavish Royal ball that evening. Their maid, Lucette, Pandolfe’s daughter from his first marriage, is not invited to attend the ball.
After Madame de la Haltière and family leave, Lucette, sitting by the fire, is visited by her fairy godmother. By magic, Lucette becomes dressed in a beautiful gown to also attend the ball, along with special slippers serving to prevent Madame de la Haltière and her daughters from recognizing her. As Lucette climbs aboard a horse-drawn coach, the godmother renames Lucette, “Cendrillon,” now transformed into “one of the fairest maidens in the land.” She is instructed to leave the ball before midnight.
The next act takes place in the royal ballroom, full of guests enjoying themselves with wonderful background orchestral and vocal music. The king is also present, along with his son, Prince Charming, who he has commanded to find a wife among the several princesses attending the ball. No potential wedding mate was found until Cendrillon, in all her finery, enters the room. The prince immediately falls in love with her. While sharing their feelings of love, the stroke of midnight is heard as Cendrillon suddenly leaves, losing one of her slippers upon departure.
When Cendrillon arrives alone at home, in sadness she decides to bid farewell to her home and leaves for the nearby forest. Falling asleep, she again sees Prince Charming in a dream. Her father, finding her asleep in the forest, brings her home. Soon they get word that the king has summoned maidens from all over the land in the hope that one of them is the unknown beauty whom the prince met at the ball. Cendrillon decides to attend, knowing that her slipper may open the door of their love. Upon her arrival at the ball, the prince immediately recognizes Cendrillon. In turn, the pair announce their love to the court. All rejoice in a final chorus, hailing Cendrillon as their “future queen.”
One review of this production cites Cendrillon, as “musically about the finest thing the Met has done all season.” “Glorious,” raved the New York Times, citing the performance of Joyce DiDonato in the title role of Cendrillon, as “thoroughly enchanting, not to be missed.”
As the Cinderella story may be familiar to many youth as part of their upbringing, local students — at all levels from grade school to college — are invited to attend this HD production of “Cendrillon” free of charge. Those planning to attend are requested to bring their own snacks and lunches. Beverages will be provided during the single intermission.
Elmer Koneman is a volunteer and opera enthusiast.
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