La Cenerentola: A Review
La Cenerentola is Rossini’s musical take on the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, with a few delightful twists along the way. The story follows the typical Cinderella trope where the good-natured and kind Angelina (Cinderella) is forced to scrub the floors by her wicked stepfather, while her ugly sisters prepare to go to the Prince’s grand ball at the palace. Angelina dreams of a better life as she is visited by a mysterious old beggar man. He tells her she will go to the ball and will also be rewarded for her kind heart. The musical is filled with delightful characters and some very marvellous mice. WNO transports you to a colourful world, filled with candy canes and magic, where you are left wondering if this charming character will get what she truly deserves and live happily ever after.
Tomáš Hanus conducts Rossini’s sparkling score, as we watch La Cenerentola “transform from rags to riches through the power of music.” The performance is sung in Italian, but it is easy to follow along with as they ensure English subtitles are provided. I was curious to see how a classically short fairy tale could have a running time of 3 hours, but the well-orchestrated musical ballets and the quick wit of the characters delightfully fill up space. Many of the scenes are up for interpretation, leaving work for the audience to fill in the gaps and decide any hidden meanings amongst the happy, whimsical show. Therefore, it was still entertaining for children and those who don’t necessarily understand more abstract deeper meanings in shows.
This musical opera is suitable for all ages; families, couples, friends with the fairy tale being full of larger than life characters with their witty, clever and striking humour, not to mention the vibrant and striking costumes. They were very bold and exaggerated; with bright wings and dresses and the make-up was extenuated and added to the humour of the show. One of the first things that I noticed is that Rossini’s humour has the ability to create humour but also depth of this re-telling of Cinderella.
The protagonist, Angelina (Cinderella) is an incredible opera singer. Her performance was both full of depth and emotion but very down to earth, which makes you easily sympathise with the character. In addition, Le Cenerentola is essentially a fable providing the audience with the idea that if you are kind and good, despite being poor and a servant, you will eventually be rewarded for your behaviour and in Angelina’s case, marry the prince of your dreams! The dancing mice who mimicked their fellow cast mates’ gestures appeared to be the characters that everyone found the funniest. This was extenuated by the loud roar of children’s laughs filling up the theatre.
The stage setting was creative and clever as the theme was generally cartoonish, and some scenes evoked energy from the nutcracker, which were wooden horses in the background of the set which gave the stage a toy shop aura which definitely captured the interest of many of the younger members of the audience.
Overall, the opera was a fantastic show to see with whimsical and exciting performances from fantastic singers with humorous and flamboyant visual artistry, such as in the over-the-top costumes and make up, making this performance suitable and enjoyable for children, families and friends alike.
Although there was only one date for this performance, the Welsh National Opera often grace the stage of the Empire theatre, so keep a look out for their later works!