Culture

Review | Rossini’s Cinderella

★★★★

By Sofia Brizio

La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini is one of the most famous and arguably most enjoyable pieces of Italian opera. This ‘drama giocoso’ in two acts presents an unconventional version of the classic Cinderella story: a tale where the glass slipper is replaced by a bracelet; the Fairy Godmother is a philosopher; and an evil stepfather substitutes the traditional stepmother. Extremely unusual and extravagant, the opera is playful and funny, but not overly dramatic, if compared to other opera classics within the same genre, such as Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

This year’s WNO production, directed by Joan Font and managed by Richard Norton, captured the eccentricity of Rossini’s masterpiece in the best possible way. Over-the-top, bright-coloured costumes and wigs made it a feast for the eyes, keeping the audience’s gaze glued to the stage from start to finish. Some brilliant artistic choices (like giving the mice an active role as dancers on the stage, with their fat pink tails swinging everywhere) doubled the fun and made everyone laugh out loud throughout both acts. But the costumes were without doubt the most extraordinary aspect of it all, especially the wigs: the men in the chorus show off royal blue hair, and the two ugly stepsisters, Clorinda (Aoife Miskelly) and Tisbe (Heather Lowe) wore staggering electric pink and lemon yellow wigs. All these bright colours created a beautiful contrast with the background, almost always dark and occasionally lit up to match the characters’ costumes, resulting in a truly awesome overall effect.

While the acting and singing skills of the cast were impressive and undoubtedly lived up to the consistently excellent standards of the Welsh National Opera, I often found that their voices were overwhelmed by the orchestra and lacked the necessary strength in the more fast-paced parts. Nonetheless, the bravura of the whole cast is undeniable, particularly in the case of Angelina, better known as Cinderella (Tara Erraught). After what seemed a weak opening, she slowly grew on the audience and was arguably the most appreciated character, making for an overall outstanding performance.

All in all, the Welsh National Opera’s interpretation of Rossini’s Cinderella is a wonderful show that makes the audience walk out of the theatre with genuine smiles on their faces. In particular, the production and artistic choices were brilliant in making bold statements through modern, flamboyant and one-of-a-kind costumes, while at the same time maintaining Rossini’s original spirit. It is certainly a unique journey, unmissable for every opera enthusiast.

Information of tickets: wno.org.uk// +44(0)29 2063 5000

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