Culture Magazine

Opera Review: A Piece of Fairy Cake

By Superconductor @ppelkonen
Joyce DiDonato sings a radiant Cendrillon at the Met.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

Opera Review: A Piece of Fairy Cake

The lighting department: Joyce DiDonata as Cinderella in Massenet's Cendrillon.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2018 The Metropolitan Opera.

At the end of the 2014 season, the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato climbed atop a wedding cake at the end of Rossini's La Cenerentola, a role in which she caused a sensation at the Metropolitan Opera. This month, Ms. DiDonato returned to the stage of America's largest opera house--and to the ballrooms of a very familiar fairy tale--to sing the title role in Cendrillon, the 1899 adaptation of the Cinderella story by Jules Massenet.
Cendrillon is Massenet's fourteenth opera, written at the apex of his popularity as the last acknowledged master of the French romantic style. As conducted here by Bertrand de Billy, its score has the weight of fairy cake, high in sugary melodies and whipped by conductor Bertrand de Billy into an airy soufflé of sound. It's hard to believe it, but this run marked the Metropolitan Opera debut for this enchanting work.
The Met should not have waited this long. Unlike the better-known Rossini adaptation, this Cendrillon hews close to the familiar version of the fairy tale written by Charles Perrault in 1698. All the elements known to children everywhere: the glass slipper, the ball, Prince Charming, and the wicked stepsisters are presented here in glowing detail, supported by effervescent orchestration and Massenet's considerable melodic gifts. Sure, it's lightweight but as an operatic fairy tale it deserves this moment in the spotlight.
In the title role (in this opera her "real name" is Lucette) Ms. DiDonato was in familar territory, applying a silvery sheen to her mezzo-soprano to navigate the work's upper passages. Better yet though was her acting with her instrument, especially in the early scenes when Lucette is browbeaten by her two harridan stepsisters. She was even better in the long monolog that starts the third act, as the once again dowdy Lucette comes home from the ball.
This was a cast packed from top to bottom with vocal firepower. Kathleen Kim gave a stellar turn as the Fairy Godmother, a part that the coloratura soprano seemed born to play. She soared above the stave and energized every scene she was in. As Prince Charming, the veteran mezzo-soprano Alice Coote seemed to fit seamlessly into the travesti role, and the sound of her voice twinning and twining with Ms. DiDonato's made their scenes together an absolute delight.
Stephanie Blythe made for an impressive and formidable Madame de la Haltière. She was packed into a series of unflattering gowns that maximized her girth and a Lewis Carroll fright-wig only added to the effect. Even bigger though was her formidable Wagnerian mezzo-soprano, with rich, dusky colors as she henpecked her husband and ruled the roost. Lucette's father (Laurent Naouri) is also a character in this version, a warm and sympathetic figure for her to lean on. Their tender Act III duet was lovely and touching, with an almost Verdian warmth.
It was also good to see another promising Juilliard-trained soprano Ying Fang as Noémie, one of the wicked stepsisters. (Her counterpart, Dorothée was sung by Maya Lahani.) Their entrance in balloon-bottomed hobble skirts that made them look like wrapped bonbons got one of the biggest laughs of the night. The rest of Laurent Pelly's whimsical production, which played before sliding, tilting walls that had the beginning of Perrault's French text printed on them, was inspired, with much use of letters and words to create physical props like the Prince's bed and Cinderella's carriage.  


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Big Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy in China

    Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy China

    Coca-Cola is at it again. As soda sales decline in the United States and Europe, beverage companies look to emerging economies like China for growth. And, it... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Jewellery for a Precious You

    Jewellery Precious

    Jewellery is always close to a woman’s heart. It completes her look and boost confidence. Considering the changing trends in jewellery fashion, it becomes... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dr.jenifer Sayyed
    LIFESTYLE
  • Rajshri Productions’ Next Is A Film On Friendship | Hum Chaar | Trailer

    Abhishek Dixit’s debut feature film Hum Chaar is a Bollywood film made under the banner of Rajshri’s film. Hum Chaar is written and directed by Abhishek Dixit. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
    ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIES
  • Saint Paul the First Hermit

    Saint Paul First Hermit

    Today is the feast day of Saint Paul the hermit. This is a sweet and delicate Oatmeal Bread topped with rolled oats and naturally sweetened with agave. Saint... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Veronica46
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu | Teaser | Pranav Mohanlal | Arun Gopy

    Arun Gopy’s Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu is an upcoming Malayalam action-drama feature film starring Pranav Mohanlal and Zaya David in the lead roles. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
    ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIES
  • A Year Of Body Positivity

    Year Body Positivity

    Last January, as I sat there on New Years eve all set to make the same old resolutions I've made year after year for as long as I can remember, I realised how... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Sparklesandstretchmarks
    DIARIES, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Jan 2019

    Garden Bloggers Bloom 2019

    Euphorbia rigidaWhen I went out to take the photos for this blog post I was surprised at how much was in flower dotted around the garden. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Patientgardener
    GARDENING, HOME