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La Cenerentola review at Wales Millennium Centre – ‘wit, warmth and vocal agility’

When Stendhal heard La Cenerentola a few years after its 1817 premiere he branded it trivial and vulgar. Post-French Revolution, Rossini’s noisy servants and happy deflation of aristocratic vanity felt disturbing – and, even more so, his rationalist transformation of Angelina/Cinderella from skivvy to princess; it’s a human philosopher, Alidoro, not a fairy godmother, who metes out social justice.

Yet Rossini hardly overthrows the monarchy, and his comic drama – in outcome at least – remains fairytale. The Catalan director and designer team of Joan Font and Joan Guillen wave their own magic wand, creating a cogent, Alice in Wonderland world rooted in commedia dell’arte and glam-punk, neo-classical cartoon.

First staged at Welsh National Opera in 2007, Xevi Dorca’s colourful revival admirably blends wit and warmth, helped by a cast and men’s chorus who relish without hamming its many details of gesture and expression; an approach – after a sluggish start – matched by Tomas Hanus and his refined Welsh National Opera orchestra.

The singers excel, the ugly trio of Clorinda (Aoife Miskelly), Tisbe (Heather Lowe) and father Magnifico (Fabio Capitanucci) oozing vileness in garish consort. Matteo Macchioni’s Ramiro is charming, though Giorgio Caoduro’s excellent Dandini threatens to upstage him in more ways than one, effortlessly commanding the charade-within-a-charade. Alidoro (Wojtek Gierlach) is occasionally more ponderous than pondering but assists with dignity.

Flanked by dancing mice and far from meekly passive, Tara Erraught’s Angelina proves a spirited heroine; down to earth and beautifully clear and agile of voice. In an age when stories of girls needing rescue by princes are rightly subject to challenge, she brings healthy glimmers of female agency to a largely gender-stereotyped role.

Verdict
Rossini’s Cinderella is performed with wit, warmth and vocal agility

Production Information

Production
La Cenerentola
Venue
Wales Millennium Centre
City
Cardiff
Starts
October 4, 2018
Ends
October 7, 2018, then touring until Nov 22 2018
Press night
October 4, 2018
Librettist
Giacopo Ferretti 
Composer
Gioachino Rossini
Director
Joan Font, Xevi Dorca (revival)
Conductor
Tomas Hanus
Set
Joan Guillen
Lighting
Albert Faura
Stage manager
Julia Carson Sims
Cast includes
Tara Erraught, Aoife Miskelly, Heather Lowe, Wojtek Gierlach, Fabio Capitanucci, Matteo Macchioni, Giorgio Caoduro
Producer
Welsh National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Grand Theatre de Genevre
Running time
3hrs