3 Cendrillon


"Cendrillon" (Cinderella) is an opera—billed as a "fairy tale"—in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Henri Cain. It was composed in 1894–95, but was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 24 May 1899, at the height of Massenet's success. An immediate hit, with fifty performances in its first season, it is one of Massenet's most charming pieces and, after "Manon" and "Werther", is one of the most frequently performed of his twenty-five operas, although it is not part of the standard operatic repertoire. The libretto is based on Perrault's version of the Cinderella fairy tale, very similar to the version most widely known in the US.

The part of boyish Prince Charming is a breeches role, sung by a Falcon soprano— or "Soprano de sentiment"— according to the libretto, a dark dramatic and characteristically French soprano voice. (In some productions, including the work's only recording, the part has been transposed for a tenor.) This "fach" is contrasted in Cendrillon's other scenes with the coloratura writing for her fairy godmother. The 18th-century touch that a breeches role brings is echoed in witty pastiche of galante music, such as the trio of lute, viola d'amore and flute that fails to rouse the melancholy and silent Prince Charming at the opening of Act II. There is a bright and worldly ballet, a series of "entrées" at the ball of princesses who fail to satisfy the Prince, contrasted with the spectral ballet under a "bluish light" in Act IV, where Cain interposes an episode unique to this Cinderella, in which Lucette (as Cendrillon is called) and her Prince are kept apart and tested by the arts of "la Fée" (Fairy Godmother) . Much witty patter tuned to the nuances of French sustains a light atmosphere throughout. The Fairy Godmother's coloratura trills and arpeggios are especially magical.

In 2006 the Santa Fe Opera presented an acclaimed production of "Cendrillon".

elected recordings

* Cendrillon by Massenet. The cast: Frederica von Stade (mezzo) Cendrillon; Nicolai Gedda (tenor) Prince Charmant; Jane Berbié (soprano) Madame de la Haltière; Jules Bastin (bass) Pandolfe; Ruth Welting (soprano) La Fée; Teresa Cahill (soprano) Noémie; Elizabeth Bainbridge (mezzo) Dorothée; Claude Méloni (tenor) Le Roi, La Voix du Héraut; Paul Crook (tenor) Le Doyen de la Faculté; Christian du Plessis (baritone) Le Surintendant des Plaisirs; John Noble (baritone) Le Premier Ministre. With the Ambrosian Opera Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Julius Rudel. Recorded at All Saints Church, London, in 1978. Sony Classical SM2K91178 [two discs]


*cite book |title=The Standard Opera Guide |last=Upton |first=George P. |coauthors=Borowski, Felix |year=1928 |publisher=Blue Ribbon Books |location=New York |pages=189-90
* [http://www.operaworld.com/special/masse1.shtml Opera insights: "Cendrillon"]
* [http://www.karadar.com/Librettos/massenet_cendrillon.html Libretto]
* [http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/46534.html Craig Smith, "Glass slipper fits for SFO production", "Santa Fe New Mexican", 17 July 2006]
* [http://www.bobsuniverse.com/BWJM/Works/operas/14Cendrillon/Cendrillon.htm "Cendrillon" Bob's Universe]

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