August 8, 2022
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What’s the distinction between actual life and desires, particularly for an insecure younger individual?

That poignant query is at the core of Massenet’s 1899 opera “Cendrillon,” which opened on Friday at the Metropolitan Opera in English translation as “Cinderella” — a holiday offering trimmed to 95 minutes and geared toward households.

In Laurent Pelly’s boldly stylized production of this adaptation of Perrault’s fairy story, after we meet Cinderella (the affecting mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard) she is stressed and forlorn. Sporting a raggedy gown and frumpy sweater, she is handled like a lowly servant by her imperious stepmother and snide stepsisters.

Left alone to ponder her destiny, Cinderella sings a wistful aria, music that means an outdated people music, and permits herself a second to dream. There should be somebody who can rescue her; someplace a loving soul mate is ready. Leonard, who has excelled at the Met as Debussy’s Mélisande and in different main roles, does it meltingly.

Cinderella’s rescuer, sadly, is just not her father, Pandolfe (the bass-baritone Laurent Naouri). As we be taught, Pandolfe was a widower dwelling contentedly in the nation together with his beloved daughter when he foolishly married the energetic Madame de la Haltière, who already had two kids. Quickly she revealed herself as overbearing and impressive. Pandolfe proves incapable of standing up to her and defending his daughter.

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And who might arise to this manufacturing’s Haltière, the mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe? Along with her highly effective, deep-set voice and take-charge presence, Blythe is hilariously withering.

In the bustling opening scene, she orders her fearful servants and obsequious milliners to create fancy robes for her daughters to attend a royal ball; the king of the realm (the sturdy bass-baritone Michael Sumuel, in his Met debut) has decreed that the recalcitrant prince will lastly select a spouse. Massenet’s music teems with rustling thrives and pomp, vibrantly led by the conductor Emmanuel Villaume. Left behind, poor Cinderella curls up on the flooring and falls asleep.

However her longing to attend the ball has been heard by the Fairy Godmother (the bright-voiced coloratura soprano Jessica Pratt), who arrives with spirit-helpers — a dancing refrain of ladies dressed eerily like Cinderella, who wakes up draped in silver-cream and is taken to the palace in a horse-drawn carriage. Is all of it a dream?

What comes via in Massenet’s telling, elegantly rendered on this efficiency, is that Prince Charming (Emily D’Angelo, a rich-voiced mezzo) can also be a dreamer. We first see him trying depressing in his purple pajamas, dreading the ball and his obligations.

Throughout a faux-courtly, tartly comedian choral scene, a parade of eligible ladies in outrageous outfits — Pelly additionally designed the costumes — seem earlier than the sullen prince, who can barely reply. Then, in a imaginative and prescient, Cinderella arrives. As their silent glances flip into lyrical exchanges, fantastically sung by Leonard and D’Angelo, these younger individuals really seem to be the solutions to each other’s desires.

And so the acquainted story unfolds: the glass slipper that falls off Cinderella’s foot as she rushes away at midnight; the prince’s relentless search to discover its proprietor; and the joyous end result when their dream of affection turns into actuality.

The manufacturing is a delight, with traces from Perrault’s fairy story written throughout Barbara de Limburg’s set and Laura Scozzi’s choreography a deft mix of smooth strikes and silliness. The solid (together with Jacqueline Echols and Maya Lahyani as the stepsisters) might hardly be higher. It’s an apt companion for the Met’s different household fare for the holidays: Mozart’s “Magic Flute,” which opened last week.


Via Jan. 3 at the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan;

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