Cinderella (La Cenerentola)
A Fast and Funny 'Cinderella' at Seattle Opera
There's never a dull moment in Seattle Opera's imaginative, fast-paced, irresistibly funny production of "Cinderella" ("La Cenerentola"); uniting rambunctious comedy and spectacular staging in a show that will entrance the whole family. This remarkable staging features characterizations so distinctively drawn – and so expertly sung – that you almost don't want to laugh, because you might miss some spectacular coloratura riffs from the cast. … And then, there's the rats: six of them, cleverly costumed humans so whimsically adorable and brilliantly choreographed (by Xevi Dorca) that they rivet the eye while serving as a sort of mute Greek chorus, observing and contributing to the action. … Every detail of the constant action underlines the character development and relates directly to the music and the libretto. … All the roles are sung and acted with a wealth of vocal and dramatic detail, in fully realized and hysterically funny portrayals, attentively accompanied by conductor Giacomo Sagripanti (in his U.S. debut). … The Italian mezzo-soprano Daniela Pini, making her U.S. debut in the title role, is astonishingly good: her voice is rich, full, and remarkably agile and accurate throughout the role's considerable range. Her appealing stage presence and affecting acting add to the impressive vocal goods. Fortunately, [she] gets an appropriately excellent Prince: tenor René Barbera, whoe high Cs and Ds are as viscerally exciting as his bravura coloratura technique, and who also can caress a vocal line with smooth, easy intimacy. … The two wicked stepsisters, Dana Pundt and Sarah Larsen are witty actresses and compelling singers; they play off each other with considerable comic finesse. … The men in the cast all seem to be having a terrific time, from Patrick Carfizzi's spectacularly comic Don Magnifico to Brett Polegato's suavely funny Dandini. Arthur Woodley brings both warmth and gravity to his "fairy godfather" role of Alidoro. The men of the Seattle Opera chorus, choreographed to the hilt, sing and cavort with evident enjoyment.
-Melinda Bargreen, The Seattle Times
A Stunningly Inventive Fairy-Tale Triumph
If you like pleasure, and if you live anywhere within striking distance of Seattle, I implore you most urgently not to miss one of the most wonderful evenings in the theater you are likely ever to encounter. … Rossini's Cinderella is a masterpiece worth to stand beside his other hit comedy The Barber of Seville. … The production is in every way masterly. … The male chorus sang well. … Making her U.S. debut in the title role was the Italian mezzo-soprano Daniela Pini–the shining star of the show. Ms. Pini is a totally delightful Cenerentola, both to look at and to listen to. … René Barbera—making his company debut as the prince—is a tenor who can project a powerful top note without yelling, and the dramatic aspect of his performance [was] thoroughly convincing. … One member of the cast who really surprised me was the Canadian baritone Brett Polegato, who had an uproarious whale of a time as the prince's valet Dandini. He demonstrated a quite masterly comic gift, and his singing rivaled Pini's in its precision and accuracy. No surprise at all was the sympathetic and authoritative Alidoro of Arthur Woodley, a stalwart bass who is seen in many Seattle productions. The evening's nastiness was skillfully supplied by the strong-voiced Patrick Carfizzi, as Don Magnifico, a self-glorifying fool of Molièrian bumptiousness. … I can only conclude by repeating my advice: don't miss this wonderful production of this wonderful opera.
-Bernard Jacobson, Seen and Heard International
Eye-popping "La Cenerentola" Adds Twist to the Tail
Seattle Opera doesn't often perform La Cenerentola, Rossini's opera buffa take on the Cinderella story, but when it does, it's memorable. … The orchestra, led by Giacomo Sagripanti in his U.S. debut, sounds as happy to be playing Rossini as everyone else is singing it. Rossini's score is bouncy and light on its feet, but Sagripanti slackens the pace judiciously, giving room for lovestruck arias to blossom. … This co-production has taken the coloratura in the score, and expressed it visually as well. The innovative, playful sets and costumes by Joan Guillén are a riot of colors. … And then there are the rats (of unusual size), with their long, floppy tails, scurrying about, moving furniture, cleaning whiskers and – in one glorious set piece – providing a gymnastic explication of a perplexed ensemble's mental contortions. … [Daniela] Pini's coloratura is breathtakingly deft, and her characterization is miles away from mopey, once [at the ball, she] acquires a poise that never leaves her. Her prince is René Barbera, who leaps to his high notes with such ease I almost got vertigo.
-Michael van Baker, The SunBreak
Seattle Opera's Colorful Cinderella
The whole production is enchanting from beginning to end. … The music bubbles with life, and the excited, chaotic, sometimes totally confused thoughts of the characters tumble out in patter singing for up to six at a time. … One of the pleasures of the performance is the humanity of it. … The cast is largely young, with well-matched voices. … The addition of six rats was choreographically great fun to watch. … The male chorus adds pageantry. The spirited whole is kept running smoothly by young Italian conductor Giacomo Sagripanti, also making his Seattle Opera debut. In short, this is a production which in all aspects will entrance children as well as the latent child in adults.
-Philippa Kiraly, CityArts
A Heroine You Can 'Hang' With
The title of Rossini's opera La Cenerentola translates literally as "Cinderella." But I'll continue to refer to it as La Cenerentola because this is not the Cinderella story with whom American audiences are familiar. The bones are there: the lonely and put-upon girl in the ashes by the fire, the wicked stepsisters, the prince (eventually). But in Rossini's version the wicked stepmother is replaced by a vain and greedy stepfather, the fairy godmother is replaced by a wise old man, there's no magic or glass slipper, and most importantly the prince trades places with his valet and spends most of the performance as a servant. He wins Cinderella's heart on merit, which makes her a much more self-reliant, self-assured, and relatable character. My daughter liked her far more than the Cinderella of the movie: "She's someone I could hang out with." High praise indeed. … Seattle Opera is hoping that this production can be an opportunity for kids to get interested in opera and I'm inclined to agree. … The great value in La Cenerentola as an entry point for kids into opera is that it's a very funny show, and not in the bawdy sexual way many comic operas are. The best, and funniest, part of the show for my daughter, and the whole audience judging from the laughter and applause, were the mice. They don't sing but they are a constant presence on stage dancing, posing, and manipulating the sets in a way that delighted the audience time and time again. As for the rest of the cast, Brett Polegato as the valet, Dandini, impersonating the prince is particularly entertaining. The wicked stepsisters, played by Dana Pundt and Sarah Larsen, in their gigantic bright pink and yellow wigs, have some wonderful vocal comedy as does Patrick Carfizzi as the stepfather Don Magnifico. … Opera in general relies on a certain amount of melodrama and La Cenerentola not only plays it for laughs but embraces the broad emotion to good effect. If your kids are interested in the arts and you think they're ready to give opera a try you should definitely consider La Cenerentola.
-John Kubalak, ParentMap