Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Listen now to our Cinderella podcast

Photo courtesy of Oper Leipzig
Curious to learn more about Rossini's masterpiece, Cinderella (La Cenerentola)? Here's an excerpt of a recent Seattle Opera podcast hosted by Dramaturg Jonathan Dean:

"When introducing Rossini's opera Cinderella (La Cenerentola) it's almost easier to tell you what it's not than what it is. It's not the Cinderella you know from Walt Disney, with a fairy godmother, a pumpkin that turns into a magic carriage, a glass slipper, and an impossibly idealized female lead. This story is much more about human behavior.

Although musically, Rossini's Cinderella and The Barber of Seville are similar, the humor in Cinderella isn't nearly as anarchic or as juvenile as in The Barber of Seville. Unlike that opera, in this one, the hero and heroine actually get to sing a love duet. There's an adorable meet-cute scene for Cinderella and her princehe's disguised as a servant because he wants to find a woman who loves him for who himself and not for his money. It's love at first sight, Italian style where it's both super sexy and sweetly innocent. Imagine two young Italians discovering each other ... Rossini casts the prince, Don Ramiro, as a high tenor and Cinderella, a mezzo (technically at the first performance, a contralto), their voices almost overlap.

Cinderella is one of the world's most beloved fairy tales because everybody can relate to the heroine's experience. She's a sweet and lovely person, mistreated and underappreciated by those around her. At the end of the story of course, she exchanges hell for heaven, her value is recognized, love enters her life, and everything is great! Rossini takes this story very seriously by never giving his Cinderella comic music, unlike everybody else in the cast. Everything she does and says is serious. In the end, she embraces her wicked family and in spite of everything, she still loves them.

This particular Rossini heroine is almost too good to be true, but that's fairy tales for you. And always remember, this is also serious opera in Italy before the Romantics. This opera was composed in 1817. Audiences back then didn't expect opera characters to show much depth. What the characters may lack in depth, however, they more than make up for in vocal fireworks. 

All the roles in this opera call for opera singers at the very top of their game. Bel canto operas set up the performers almost like sports stars. There will be moments where, it's almost as if the plot is suspended so the singer can wow you with their voice through techniques such as coloratura, where you have lots of notes for every word or patter, where the voice scampers very quickly like the pattering of rain drops. I like to call these the, 'Don't try this at home' styles of singing!"
Jonathan Dean, Seattle Opera Dramaturg

For more, tune in to the Seattle Opera podcast episode: Cenerentola 101.

The Seattle Opera Podcast is for everyone. Are you an opera newbie (or maybe need a refresher)? Check out the SO’s opera 101 lessons. These short and entertaining overviews of the SO’s operas are a great place to start. Already an opera fan? Check out episodes that take a deeper dive into the operas. This podcast is a co-production of Seattle Opera and KING FM. Subscribe on iTunesCinderella plays Oct. 19–Nov. 1, 2019 at McCaw Hall.