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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


(Pic: Elina Garanca as Angelina and Lawrence Brownlee as Don Ramiro with gentlemen of the chorus in the final scene of the Metropolitan Opera production of Rossini’s “La Cenerentola”)

Garanca dazzles as Rossini’s Cinderella. (Review by William Charlton-Perkins)

La Cenerentola, Rossini’s delightful take on the classic Cinderella legend, offers a rousing and thoroughly enjoyable finale to Cinema Nouveau’s (Gateway) current season of HD Metropolitan Opera transmissions.

The opera, which premiered in Rome in 1817, boasts one of Rossini’s most glittering scores, its wealth of superb ensembles juxtaposed between a heady succession of solo arias for bass, baritones and tenor, culminating in the protagonist’s celebrated vocal fireworks display, the rondo finale, Nacqui all’affano…Non piu mesta accanto al fuoco.

This revival of Cesare Lievi's 1997 production, with its semi-cartoonish set and costume designs by Maurizio Baló, stars the beautiful Latvian mezzo soprano, Elina Garanca. A willowy blond whose seemingly effortless virtuoso singing is dazzling, she brings the house to its feet at the final curtain. The rest of the cast shine too, not least bass baritone John Relyea, splendid as Alidoro, the deus ex machine character who makes things happen for our Cinders.

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee delivers a vocally accomplished Prince Charming, although physically he is mismatched with Garanca, who towers over him. As the preposterous Don Magnifico, Angelina’s stepfather, veteran basso Alessandro Corbelli successfully achieves Rossini’s precarious balance between comic and bully, while Rachelle Durkin and Patricia Risley as his daughters, Clorinda and Tisbe, vie with each other as scene-stealers. Simone Alberghini is a witty and likeable Dandini, the Prince’s henchman.

Maurizio Benini and his Met orchestral forces, together with the all-male chorus, revel in the many ironic touches, ebullient tonal contrasts and rhythmic punch of Rossini’s delicious score. Make the most of this jewel of piece, before we go back into the desert until the next season of Opera in HD heads our way. – William Charlton-Perkins