This 2011 production was the first time that Massenet’s opera interpretation of the story Cinderella has been performed in the Covent Garden venue.
There is much to be admired about Laurent Pelly’s glorious and romantic production of Massenet’s interpretation of the classic fairytale, which features a magical and charming score.
Throughout, Laurent Pelly’s production has a gorgeous flow to it as well as many delightful comical moments that are embraced fully by the cast. In particular Ewa Podleś as the Stepmother is a real delight as she bosses everyone around, reminding me on occasion of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. Her mannerisms and the way she expresses herself through the music really offers some brilliant moments of comedy.
But it is also a production that fully enhances the magical and romantic elements of both the story and the score. In particular, the way in which the Fairy Godmother helps to transform Cendrillon to help her dream of attending the ball come true is imaginatively and delightfully achieved.
The way in which the story effectively comes across on stage is helped further by Barbara de Limburg’s lovely set design that comes across as a fairy tale book design, complete with a fold away balcony really adds to the overall charm of the production. Meanwhile, the choreography throughout including the ball scene certainly brings a smile to the face as each of the aristocratic ladies (sometimes literally) fall over themselves to attract the attention of the prince. It really is the little touches that make this production stand out.
Meanwhile, the Royal Opera Orchestra, conducted by Bertrand de Billy, are also on glorious form. Each moment managing to capture the playfulness and romantic elements of Massenet’s score, particularly during the moment when the Prince and Cendrillon come face to face again once more with the help of the Fairy Godmother.
The performances from the cast were all nicely controlled vocally, with some lovely characterisations. Joyce DiDonato as Cendrillon offers a charmingly lovely and grounded performance, while Alice Coote as Prince Charming offers a vocally strong portrayal. Yet somehow, the chemistry between the two characters doesn’t come through strongly enough. Jean-Philippe Lafont as Cendrillon’s father offers a warm and immensely likeable performance, while Eglise Gutiérrez has a charismatic presence as the Fairy Godmother .
Overall, this is charming production that really pays attention to detail making it a delight to watch from start to finish.
By Emma Clarendon
Cendrillon is available to watch through the Royal Opera House’s Youtube channel until the 5th June.