Cinderella’s story has been told in fairy tales, animated films, feminist action-adventure films, ballets and multiple operas. The Italian version by Gioachino Rossini from 1817 is the most famous; it’s long on romance and comedy, but short on magic, reflecting his take on the Age of Enlightenment.
The composer Jules Massenet created his French version, Cinderella, in Paris in 1899. He restored the witchcraft and charm that the public expects today without skimping on the love story or the laughter. A prominent critic of the time described it as “having been sprinkled with the magic powder of sounds.”
Cinderella was rarely seen in this country until 2006, when Laurent Pelly’s stylized and surreal production premiered here and was the surprise glory of the Santa Fe Opera’s 50th anniversary season. since then in London, Brussels and Barcelona, as well as at the Metropolitan Opera (but not yet in Santa Fe, alas).
Witty design touches abound. To name just two, the carriage that takes Cinderella to the ball is made up of huge letters that spell carriage, in French of course. Her dress is an ash gray at the bottom, which fades to a flamboyant silvery white on the top, symbolizing her rebirth from the ashes.
Now the Metropolitan Opera is reviving Pelly’s production in a 95-minute family version sung in English. Isabel Leonard, seen in Santa Fe in Cold mountain (2015) and The Marriage of Figaro (2008), is Cinderella. She is associated with Emily D’Angelo, who was Dorabella in SFO 2019 Così fan tutte. The New York Times Said of them: “As their silent gazes turn into lyrical exchanges, beautifully sung by Leonard and D’Angelo, these young people really seem to be the answers to each other’s dreams.”
You can expect plenty of laughs from expert singer-comedians Laurent Naouri and Stephanie Blythe as Cinderella’s dad and stepmom, and Jacqueline Echols and Maya Lahyani as not even charming half-sisters. Laura Scozzi’s choreography adds a wacky energy to the debates.