This was not your Disney Cinderella, but the Jules Massenet opera first staged in Paris in 1899 to rave reviews and later neglected for decades until recent years where it has enjoyed a revival by various prominent opera companies.
This was not your Disney Cinderella, but the Jules Massenet opera first staged in Paris in 1899 to rave reviews and later neglected for decades until recent years where it has enjoyed a revival by various prominent opera companies. A partnership between Abridged Opera and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, the performance (seen Mar. 27th) was staged in Windsor's beautiful, historic Willistead Manor in a theatre-in-the-round style, presented to an intimate audience limited to 50 people.
Described by Massenet as a fairy tale in four acts, the production was staged across three rooms, with audience members moving from room to room as the piece progressed. The story opened in the manor's main room, here standing in for the home of Madame de la Haltiere (Leah Giselle Field), stepmother to Lucette (Amelia Daigle as Cinderella) and wife of Lucette s father Pandolfe, played by baritone Michael Robert-Broder. The character of Pandolfe features prominently in this Cinderella adaptation, performing two emotional duets with Lucette.
Mezzo-soprano Alexandra Beley and soprano Naomi Aberhard did an outstanding job as the wicked stepsisters offering great expression and humour in their performances. Tenor Philip Klaassen played the melancholy Prince Charming to great effect, conveying his frustration with his father, the king's (baritone Michael Nyby) attempts to force him to choose a wife. The real star of course is Cinderella, and mezzo-soprano Amelia Daigle turned in a phenomenal performance with gorgeous vocals that captivated the capacity audience. Michigander Molly Bruner was a delightful fairy godmother, who along with her team of sprites gave the production its magical quality. The highlight was the dream sequence in Act III, "The Fairies' Oak" in which the fairies bring Cinderella and Prince Charming together in an enchanted forest. Although they can't see each other, they recognize each others voices and sing of their love.
Nancy Armstrong and Paulette Bondy did a fabulous job with costuming, going with a 20's theme that meshed perfectly with the architecture of the century-old mansion. According to Director Erin Armstrong, the decision to set the story in the 1920's was also a practical one that allowed for easier movement around the audience because of the slim styling of the wardrobe.--Dan Boshart