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Strap on your seat belts, as we get ready to accelerate into a world of fantasy and fairy tale with Rossini’s extravagant and colourful La Cenerentola. Based loosely on the plot of Charles Perrault’s Cinderella, twists and turns are surely to be expected in this alternative fairy tale. Rossini, a celebrated and prosperous composer, provides a fresh perspective replacing magic with the importance of morals and virtues, thus pitting them against the hypocrisy of power.
Collaborating with the librettist Jacopo Ferretti, La Cenerentola was composed in a hectic 24 days for St Stephen’s Day during the Rome Carnival. The alternative plot derives from the time restraint and era that Rossini was writing. Due to the times, censorship was called on the opera, removing the glass slipper for the exchange of a bracelet instead, as the idea of a lady revealing her bare ankle would have been disastrous. When Rossini and Ferretti discussed the staging of the opera, they realised it was too complicated when including the supernatural elements, so to keep it more fluid and simple they removed these elements, such as the transformation of the pumpkin to a carriage.
Yet, the most fascinating alteration to this story is the removal of magical fairy godmother for the character Alidoro, the philosopher and tutor to the Prince. With the Age of Enlightenment influencing the 19th century, it can be connected that Rossini wanted to move away from phantasmagorical delusion and towards a more realistic story, following the idea that virtue holds more importance that that of magic, money or power.
Premiering on 25 January 1817, Rossini boasted how it would take Italy by storm, with both impresarios and prima donnas fighting for parts. Rossini was not wrong, La Cenerentola gained such popularity in the 19th century that it even overshadowed Rossini’s most popular opera to date, The Barber of Seville.
Following the theme of fairy tales, in Spring 2019 we will be performing one of Mozart’s most famous operas, The Magic Flute. Though the use of fairy tales had been popular in France since 1771, it was The Magic Flute that sparked a growing interest in them as a popular operatic genre.
So, come join us for a magical two seasons, that’ll leave your stomach sore from laughing and your imagination satisfied, with bright colours, witty characters and humorous storylines.