La Cenerentola review at Opera Holland Park – ‘glamorous and spirited’

Victoria Simmons, Nico Darmanin, Nicholas Lester and Jonathan Veira in La Cenerentola at Opera Holland Park. Photo: Robert Workman
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Oliver Platt’s staging of Rossini’s comedy based on the Cinderella story represents Opera Holland Park’s first ever co-production, with the Danish National Opera – and what a fine show this is from a visual point of view.

Setting the piece in Rossini’s own period – La Cenerentola premiered in Rome in 1817 – designer Neil Irish provides richly varied costumes: colourful huntsmen for Prince Ramiro’s retinue, madly over the top dresses for Fleur de Bray and Heather Lowe as Cenerentola’s mean-spirited (not ‘ugly’ in the operatic version) sisters Clorinda and Tisbe, and full-on glamour for the guests at Prince Ramiro’s ball.

The show even has a transformation scene, when Don Magnifico’s down-at-heel apartment, with its peeling wallpaper, turns in an instant into the Prince’s palace. It’s something of a triumph.

Musically and dramatically we’re on firm ground, too. Nico Darmanin has all the top notes and plentiful energy for the dashing prince. Jonathan Veira offers a classic buffo performance as the pompous Don Magnifico – the kind of role he does better than anyone else in the UK. Barnaby Rea’s grand bass gives him weight and gravitas as Alidoro, the prince’s tutor, who rescues Cenerentola from the cinders.

Though the coloratura comes less naturally to them, Nicholas Lester makes an eminently likable Dandini and Victoria Simmonds brings warmth and pathos to the title role.

The comedy has been finely and purposefully rehearsed, though once or twice Emma Brunton’s choreography feels a touch hyperactive. The young Australian Dane Lam’s conducting is precise and spirited, encouraging the company’s lively chorus to give of their best and the City of London Sinfonia to convey Rossini’s score with clarity and focus. Taken as a whole, the show confirms that Holland Park is on something of a roll this season.

A glamorous production and spirited conducting give Rossini’s Cinderella opera a facelift