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Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Cinderella” Review – Great Fun and Brilliantly Done

By Barbara Keer

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Lyric Opera of Chicago’s current production of Rossini’s “Cinderella” has it all.  It is fun, brilliantly done and has something for everyone.  Whether it was two women originally from Moscow seeing a Lyric production for the first time, a woman eating at the Florian Opera Bistro who has attended Lyric for 30 years or Ruth and Aaron Botwick who moved to Chicago from Ann Arbor largely for Lyric, this performance was memorable. Remaining performances are on October 13, 17, 23, 26, at 7:30pm and October 30 at 2pm.  Don’t miss this.

 

Diana Newman, Annie Rosen

Though humorous and seemingly “light”, there was much to take from the story that was deeper and powerful.  The production is over the top with amazing costuming, sets, lighting, and other special effects that stopped just short of being too much, but instead provided delight at every level and a surprise at every turn.  The music, which is familiar, is gorgeous.  The voices were exquisite.

  

Christian Van Horn, photo: Andrew Cioffi

I love the opportunity of attending the pre-opera talk.  The special musical selections that are shared along with fascinating information about the opera I am about to see, enhance the opera experience.  I learned that Gioachino Rossini completed the music for the opera, his 20th, in 24 days while the librettist, Jacopo Ferretti basing his work on the Charles Perrault tale Cendrillon and others completed his work in 22 days. This is considered a dramatic comedy in two acts with “vocal competition”.  In the rush to complete this opera, part of other operas were “borrowed”. This was a time when composers were expected to complete five operas a year.

 

  

Isabel Leonard, Vito Priante

The story isn’t quite the Disney version or even the one typically told in fairy tale books.  However, the essence of the story remains intact.  Some aspects of the story were altered by the mores of the time, including this use of a bracelet the prince must find because a bare foot was considered too risqué on the stage. There is also dramatic transformation.  Angelina’s (Cinderella) goodness shines throughout.  Goodness and hope prevail.

 

Annie Rosen, Diana Newman, Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, Vito Priante

 

Look for Isabel Leonard as Angelina (a.k.a. Cinderella) who dreams of falling in love with a prince, Lawrence Brownlee (debut) as charming Prince Ramiro who she falls in love with, thinking he is the valet, Alessandro Corbelli as nasty stepfather Don Magnifico (also very funny), Vito Priante (debut) as the prince’s crafty servant Dandini, and Christian Van Horn as the prince’s wise advisor Alidoro.  Familiar figures are the mean stepsisters Clorinda and Tisbe played by Diana Newman and Annie Rosen (both debuts and first-year members of the Ryan Opera Center).  One voice was more beautiful than the next.  The contrast of the humorous and romantic arias heightened interest and enjoyment.

 

Isabel Leonard (and friends)

Don’t look for a fairy godmother, a pumpkin becoming a coach, mice turned into horses, etc.  However, the “dancing” mice in this production are fantastic additions (they steal the show).  A note from Wikipedia, “The word "Cinderella" has, by analogy, come to mean one whose attributes were unrecognized, or one who unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity and neglect.”

  

Lawrence Brownlee, Isabel Leonard, Diana Newman, Annie Rosen, Alessandro Corbelli, Christian Van Horn, photo: Andrew Cioffi

 

Making this show even more wonderful are the following: Sir Andrew Davis conducts this opera for the first time in a new-to-Chicago production. Making their company debuts are director Joan Font, production designer Joan Guillen, lighting designer Albert Faura, choreographer Xevi Dorca, and associate director Joan Anton Rechi, all longtime collaborators from Barcelona. Michael Black is chorus master.

 

One may wonder, at the very end, if the story was only Cinderella’s dream but the audience will never wonder if they have had an incredible evening of opera in the very best sense.

  

Look at it jump

The Lyric Opera presentation of Cinderella is generously made possible by Margot and Josef Lakonishok, The Nelson Cornelius Production Endowment Fund, and PowerShares QQQ.

Cinderella is a coproduction of Houston Grand Opera, Welsh National Opera, Gran Théâtre del Liceu, and Grand Theatre de Genève.

 

More Lyric Opera of Chicago/ Cinderella information

We were delighted to begin our evening with a light meal at the Florian Opera Bistro where the service was great, the food delicious and the patrons happy and looking forward to a wonderful opera.

Florian Opera Bistro

Photos: Todd Rosenberg unless otherwise noted.

 

Published on Oct 11, 2015

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