2 juli 2009
80 – La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini
La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo (Cinderella, or Goodness Triumphant) is an operatic dramma giocoso in two acts by Gioachino Rossini. The libretto was written by Jacopo Ferretti, based on the fairy tale Cinderella. The opera was first performed in Rome’s Teatro Valle on 25 January 1817.
In this variation of the traditional Cinderella story, the wicked stepmother is replaced by a stepfather, Don Magnifico. The Fairy Godmother is replaced by Alidoro, a philosopher and the Prince’s tutor. Cinderella is identified not by her glass slipper but by her bracelet.
Time: Late 18th century – early 19th century
Angelina (”Cenerentola”) is forced to work as the maid in the run-down house of her stepfather Don Magnifico. While his two daughters, Clorinda and Tisbe, try on their gowns and jewelry, Cenerentola sings a ballad about a king who found his wife among common folk. A beggar appears. Clorinda and Tisbe want to send him away, but Cenerentola offers him bread and coffee. Courtiers arrive to announce that Prince Ramiro is looking for the most beautiful girl in the land to be his bride and will soon pay them a visit. Prince Ramiro arrives, disguised as his own valet in order to observe the women without them knowing. He is immediately struck with admiration for Cenerentola and she for him. Cenerentola leaves when her stepsisters call her. Don Magnifico enters and Ramiro tells him the Prince will arrive shortly. The ”prince” is actually Dandini, Ramiro’s valet in disguise. The stepsisters arrive and fawn over Dandini, who invites them to a ball at the royal country palace. Don Magnifico tells Cenerentola that she cannot accompany them to the ball. Before leaving, Ramiro notes how badly Cenerentola is treated. His tutor, Alidoro, who had been at the house earlier disguised as the beggar, arrives still wearing his rags and asks for Don Magnifico’s third daughter. Magnifico denies she is still alive, but when Alidoro is left alone with Cenerentola, he tells her that she will accompany him to the ball. He throws off his beggar’s clothes and identifies himself as a member of Prince Ramiro’s court, telling her that heaven will reward her pure heart.
The stepsisters and Don Magnifico arrive at Prince Ramiro’s palace with Dandini, still posing as the prince. Dandini offers Magnifico a tour of the wine cellar, hoping to get him drunk. He then disentangles himself from the family and tells Ramiro how stupid the two sisters are. Ramiro is confused since Alidoro had spoken well of one of Magnifico’s daughters. Clorinda and Tisbe enter, and Dandini offers Ramiro as an escort for one of them. Believing him to be a mere valet, they reject him. Alidoro announces the arrival of an unknown veiled lady (Cenerentola). All sense something familiar about her and feel they are in a dream but on the verge of being awakened with a shock.
Don Magnifico, Clorinda, and Tisbe are in a room of Ramiro’s palace. Magnifico frets over the unknown woman who threatens the chance for one of his daughters to marry Prince Ramiro. The three leave and Ramiro enters, smitten with the unknown woman who resembles the girl he had met that morning. He conceals himself as Dandini arrives with Cenerentola and tries to court her. She turns Dandini down politely, telling him that she is in love with his valet. Ramiro steps forth, reveals himself as the prince and declares his love for her. She then leaves giving him one of a pair of matching bracelets and saying that if he really cares for her, he will find her. Encouraged by Alidoro, Ramiro calls his men together to begin searching for her. Meanwhile, Dandini confesses to Don Magnifico that he is really Prince Ramiro’s valet. Magnifico becomes highly indignant, and Dandini orders him out of the palace.
At Magnifico’s house, Cenerentola, once again dressed in rags, is tending the fire and singing her ballad. Magnifico and his daughters return from the ball in a vile mood, and order Cenerentola to prepare their supper. A thunderstorm rages. Dandini suddenly appears at the door to say that Prince Ramiro’s carriage has overturned outside and brings him into the house. Cenerentola fetches a chair for the prince and realizes he is Ramiro. He recognizes her bracelet and the couple are reunited. Don Magnifico, Clorinda and Tisbe are furious. Angered by their meanness to Cenerentola, Ramiro threatens to punish them, but Cenerentola asks him to be merciful. As Cenerentola leaves with her prince, Alidoro thanks heaven for the happy outcome.
In the throne room of Ramiro’s palace, Magnifico tries to curry favour with his stepdaughter, the new princess, but she only wants to be acknowledged as his daughter. Cenerentola asks the prince to forgive Magnifico and the two stepsisters. Her father and stepsisters embrace her as she declares that her days of toiling by the fire are over.
Angelina, La Cenerentola – coloratura mezzo-soprano/coloratura contralto
Prince Ramiro – tenor
Dandini – coloratura baritone
Don Magnifico – basso buffo
Alidoro – bass
Clorina, don Magnifico’s daughter – soprano
Tisbe, don Magnifico’s daughter – mezzo-soprano
courtiers – tenors, basses
This is an opera that I got to see this spring, and it flew straight into my top 5 list of operas. The music is light and wonderful, without really any boring parts, the story is also fun, and filled with a few twists. Sure Angelina is a bit of a Mary Sue, but really which Cinderella isn’t. The opera itself was almost forgotten for a while, until the last 30 years when there’s been a comeback for the coloratura mezzosoprano on the world stages. Cecilia Bartoli is one singer who is really famous for her Angelina. Other contemporary singers with great Angelinas are Elina Garanca and Malena Ernman. Since it is my favourite I had a bit of a problem picking which pieces to present here, but I’ll go from the beginning.
Ouverture the Ouverture from La Cenerentola is a standard concerto piece in itself. I really like this production that was made as well, just see how easy it is to dance disco to Rossini, and that way make it funny but also taking it away from the 19th century.
Don Magnifico’s aria this is another standard concerto repertoire piece for bass-baritones. It was a bit hard to find a stage version of it, there are a lot of concert versions with a lot of different singers on it. Don Magnifico sings about how he will be able to marry off his daughters with the prince and then life will be good. This production is a film from 1981.
Ramiro’s aria then we jump to the final act, where the prince vows to go and find Angelina.
Now comes the final end, and it’s one of the true masterpieces for a coloratura mezzo-soprano. Angelina sings about how her life was sad, but now she will never sit in the ashes again. I can’t help but wanting to show you some different takes on it, in chronological order.
Frederica von Stade This is the film version from 1981. In a way Frederica von Stade was probably one of the forerunners for the comeback of the mezzo-soprano as an operatic star.
Cecilia Bartoli Met 1997 – this is the same staging that it still used today, but with Elina Garanca instead.
Malena Ernman Stockholm 2009
Här kan man dessutom hitta min mycket korta recension från Stockholms-uppsättningen.