Peabody Opera Theatre presents
 

Cinderella (Cendrillon)

by Jules Massenet

libretto by Henri Cain, after Perrault
 

Peabody Symphony Orchestra

Hajime Teri Murai, conductor

Roger Brunyate, stage director

Erhard Rom, set designer
 

Thursday-Saturday, November 18, 19, 20, 2004 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, November 21, 2004 at 3:00 PM
Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall
Peabody Conservatory of Music
1 East Mt. Vernon Place
Baltimore, Maryland
Admission $24 / Seniors $12 / Students with ID $10
Box Office: 410/659-8100 x2, or book online

This production is funded in part by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council

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A Different Cinderella: With Cendrillon, Massenet turns to one of the most familiar of fairy tales for inspiration. In this essay, director Roger Brunyate discusses how his version differs from most others, in its pervasive romanticism and its unusual treatment of the two main characters.


Massenet completed Cendrillon in 1896, after he had already achieved fame with such operas as Manon, Werther, and Thaïs. The opera was an immediate success, playing to over 50 performances in its first season, and soon gained an international reputation. It has seen a revival in popularity in recent years—and rightly so, since it shows a charm, delicacy, and humor always present to some extent in Massenet’s music but seldom allowed to flower to the extent that they do here.

A scene from the production
Elizabeth Healy and Sarah Davis
as the Prince and Cendrillon. Photograph by Jesse Hellman.

While the opera follows the main lines of the traditional story, including some hilarious comedy with the overbearing stepmother and her pushy daughters, the emotional center of the music relies on tenderness and pathos rather than grandeur. This is enhanced by casting Prince Charming, like Cendrillon herself, as a soprano, so that the two appear (in the words of the critic Rodney Miles) “as lost, desperate children,” rather than as conventional operatic lovers. Just as Cendrillon is banished to the kitchens of her own house, loved only by her ineffectual father, the Prince feels isolated in the midst of his father's court. After their fateful meeting, whose magic stops the ball like figures on a music box, both Cendrillon and the Prince take flight, and meet (unseen by one another) under the Fairy Oak in the forest. There, they fall under the spell of the Fairy Godmother, a coloratura soprano whose effortless trills and arpeggios create a shimmering musical world, and confirm the yearning sadness that only the other can assuage. Of course, the story all ends happily in the final scene… but even then the audience is never quite certain of what was real and what a dream.

A scene from the production
Bonnie McNaughton as the Fairy Godmother
with Lisa Taylor as a Sprite. Photograph by Jesse Hellman.

The production will be conducted by Hajime Teri Murai and staged by Roger Brunyate, the team responsible for the successful production of Puccini’s Trittico last year. The set designer will be Erhard Rom, who has conceived a production setting the opera in the art nouveau period of the work's creation, in which the worlds of nature and of man flow together with an expressive ambiguity to match the dreamlike nature of the music.
 


PRINCIPAL SINGERS

* Cast performing Thursday 18 and Saturday 20 November
** Cast performing Friday 19 and Sunday 21 November

The Fairy Godmother **Chi-Chen Chiang
*Bonnie McNaughton
Cendrillon *Sarah Davis
**Leah Inger
Noémie *Natalie Conte
**Toni Marie Palmertree
Prince Charming *Elizabeth Healy
**Jessica Renfro
Dorothée **Chi-Chun Chan
*Alyssia Lee
Mme. de la Haltière **Elspeth Davis
*Jessica Medina
Pandolfe **Scott Elliott
*Daniel Seigel
The King **David Krohn
*Frédéric Rey