The Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera – Laurent Pelly’s production of Massenet’s Cendrillon/Cinderella – Isabel Leonard, Emily D’Angelo, Jessica Pratt, Stephanie Blythe, Laurent Naouri; conducted by Emmanuel Villaume

Massenet
Cendrillon – Conte de fées in four Acts to a libretto by Henri Cain after Charles Perrault’s fairytale [abridged Met version in one Act sung in an English-language adaptation by Kelley Rourke, with Met surtitles by Michael Panayos in English, German and Spanish]

Cinderella – Isabel Leonard
Prince Charming – Emily D’Angelo
The Fairy Godmother – Jessica Pratt
Madame de la Haltière – Stephanie Blythe
Pandolfe – Laurent Naouri
Naomie – Maya Lahyani
Spirits – Lianne Coble-Dispensa, Abigail Mitchell, Anne Nonnemacher, Elizabeth Brooks, Christina Thomson-Anderson & Rosalie Sullivan
The Master of Ceremonies – Matthew Anchel
The Dean – Jonah Hoskins
The Prime Minister – Paul Corona
The King – Michael Sumuel
A Herald – Yohan Belmin

The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
The Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera
Emmanuel Villaume

 

Laurent Pelly – Production & Costume Designer
Barbara de Limburg – Set Designer
Duane Schuler – Lighting Designer
Laura Scozzi – Choreographer


Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 17 December, 2021
Venue: Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York City

This Cinderella, a ninety-minute English-language version of Laurent Pelly’s fanciful 2018 production of Massenet’s Cendrillon, is the newest installment in the Met’s series of abridged, family-friendly opera adaptations. The storybook staging – with Pelly’s zany, colorful costumes and Barbara de Limburg’s one-size-fits-all sets featuring the French text of Charles Perrault’s 1697 classic fairytale scrawled everywhere possible – holds up well. Laura Scozzi’s imaginative choreography, with its comical court dances and prancing footmen, continues to draw big laughs. Kelley Rourke’s translation and abridgement of Henri Cain’s 1899 libretto is less successful. While it retains some of the witty elements of the original text, the English-language rendering is a less than perfect match for the music’s many moods and colors.    

Massenet’s vibrant score features three prominent roles for lower female voices, including the trouser-role of Prince Charming, sung here by the magnificent Emily D’Angelo. Her portrayal of the character as a sulking adolescent suits the whimsical tone of the production, and with her strong and wonderfully creamy voice she delivers the stand-out performance. She is well-matched with Isabel Leonard whose lovely looks and lustrous legato are a perfect fit for Cinderella. Her love-duet with the prince is the most magical musical moment in the story. In the third mezzo role, Stephanie Blythe gives a scene-stealing comic performance as the wicked and imperious stepmother, Madame de la Haltière, as she flaunts her huge and richly colored voice with considerable glee and struts about in an outrageously bulked-out costume.

Revisiting the role he sang in his native French in the Met’s 2018 run of Cendrillon, the smooth voiced Laurent Naouri displays flawless English diction in his winning, mostly naturalistic portrait of Cinderella’s father, the put-upon Pandolfe. As his stepdaughters Naomie and Dorothy, Jacqueline Echols and Maya Lahyani, with their mincing steps and sourpuss stares, are the perfect airheads. In the role of the Fairy Godmother, Jessica Pratt sings radiantly, with effortless high notes and lilting grace.

Emmanuel Villaume leads the Orchestra in an energetic and mostly light-footed account of Massenet’s tuneful score.  Further performances on December 19 (matinee), 22, 24 (matinee), 28 & 30; January 1 (matinee) & 3

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