‘Cenerentola’ an opera with Cinderella style

May 9, 2014 

Rachelle Durkin, as Clorinda; Joyce DiDonato, as Angelina; and Patricia Risley, as Tisbe, perform in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola,” an opera based on the Cinderella story.

KEN_HOWARD — The Metropolitan Opera

Talk about a fairy-tale ending: The Metropolitan Opera’s 2013-14 “Live in HD” series comes to a close this weekend with “La Cenerentola,” being shown Saturday at the Douglass Theatre. “La Cenerentola” is Gioachino Rossini’s “bel canto” telling of the Cinderella story, completed just a year after the more famous “The Barber of Seville,” when the composer was still just 25 years old.

Rossini is said to have no use for supernatural gimmicks, so certain features of the popularized tale of Cinderella have been altered. Gone are the slippers, the pumpkin turned into a carriage, the fairy god-mother and the transformation at midnight. The wicked step-mother has given way to a wicked step-father.

Surprisingly, “La Cenerentola” seems much elevated by Rossini’s alterations. The characters display certain nuances that make for a more profound story. The subtitle, “Ossia la bonta in trionfo” (goodness triumphant) admirably captures the lessons of the plot. Rather than a fairy tale, we have a story of virtue rewarded.

The action is foreshadowed by the song (about a king who marries a wife from the common folk) that Angelina (“Cenerentola”) softly sings as she goes about her chores in the run-down castle of her step-father, Don Magnifico. His two daughters, the vain and superficial Clorinda and Tisbe, are ordering Angelina about when there comes a knock at the door.

Disguised as a beggar, the caller is Alidoro, tutor to the prince Don Ramiro. While Clorinda and Tisbe order him away, Angelina slips him some bread and coffee -- and so begins the familiar tale. Before long, the prince will arrive in the guise of his valet, while the true valet, Dandini, arrives dressed as the prince.

Soon there will be a ball, which Angelina will be forbidden to attend, for Don Magnifico is anxious to salvage his finances by marrying one of his daughters to the wealthy prince.

In the end, however, not just beauty but moral and social justice prevail. Not only will Angelina never again weep by the fire, but love and forgiveness will be extended to her tormentors. “La Cenerentola” is powerful stuff, indeed.

“La Cenerentola”

When: 12:55 p.m. May 10

Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Cost: $24 adults, $20 seniors

Information: www.metopera.org/hdlive, 478-742-2000

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