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La Cenerentola review at West Green House, Hampshire – ‘skilful, tightly choreographed production’

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There is no pumpkin coach in Rossini’s take on the Cinderella story. Its farce may be formulaic, but it is grounded in a semblance of reality.

At West Green House, director Victoria Newlyn builds the comedy around a heroine of some substance, leaving space for tension, sentiment and tightly choreographed knockabout. Similarly, conductor Matthew Kofi Waldren consistently achieves the essential Rossinian balance of exhilarating dynamism and buoyant grace.

In Richard Studer’s contemporary designs, Don Magnifico’s family is camping out in a clapped-out Citroën 2CV, while Prince Ramiro’s huntin’-shootin’-fishin’ Land Rover is on the opposite side of the stage.

Cinderella’s stepsisters – Zoe Drummond a petulant Clorinda and Sioned Gwen Davies a daffy Tisbe – are played and sung with precision, not as mere caricatures. As their bumbling yet cunning father, Matthew Stiff gives the evening’s most Italianate performance, superbly agile in his patter.

A kind of fairy godfather without a wand, Alidoro is given a dignified, solicitous and sonorous interpretation by Blaise Malaba. Initially cutting a swathe in a blaze of tartan, Nicholas Mogg has a high old time as Dandini while maintaining meticulous control of his lean, resonant baritone.

Filipe Manu makes a dashing Prince, his tenor warm and mellifluous throughout its range, even in the highest notes. When it comes to fluid coloratura, he does not quite match Heather Lowe as Angelina, Cinders herself. The range, subtlety and assurance of her singing is reflected in her acting and dancing, even as she emits cascades of semiquavers in her joyous closing rondo.

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Verdict
Skilful production of Rossini’s Cinderella that ensures the comedy always has heart
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