Ah Rossini…! The real inventor of the assembly line. That Ford fellow was just a copycat. One-size-fits-all overtures. Arias you swear you've heard before (you did). Plots that are reused more often than a sandlot league baseball. Why do we love him so much? Because his music is so infectious that it gets under your skin faster than a splinter from a bamboo shade. (Amazon.com; Mike Birman)
La cenerentola (“Cinderella”) is one of Rossini’s longest comedies, nearly three hours. For any readers who are not familiar with this opera, let me briefly tell you that it bears little resemblance to Perrault’s famous fairy tale. There is no fairy godmother, no pumpkin coach with mice turned into horses, no glass slipper, and no ball at the Prince’s with a midnight curfew. What’s left is a sweet girl, mistreated by her stepfather and vain stepsisters, and a prince in search of a wife…
FANFARE: David L. Kirk
Tenor superstar Juan Diego Flórez adds the role of Prince Ramiro in Rossini’s sparkling comedy La Cenerentola to his rapidly growing catalog of performances on Decca. In Joan Font’s strikingly colorful, toy-town staging, he is joined by one of today’s great Cinderellas, the American mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato. The two have wowed audiences with their virtuoso performances in the Metropolitan Opera’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia which was broadcast live in HD to movie theaters and on PBS.
Rossini’s classic take on the “Cinderella” story is a comic opera full of thrilling arias, beautiful melodies and lots of laughs. The Metropolitan’s charming production was revived in 2009 for star mezzo, Elīna Garanča. The mezzo triumphs in the role and dispatches vocal fireworks throughout. She is joined by American tenor Lawrence Brownlee and a cast of bel canto singers.
It is probably now or never. With classic older sets vying with a clutch of more recent recordings, there is currently as complete and interesting an array of recordings of Rossini's La Cenerentola as we are likely to get at any one time. Among recent versions, Chailly's new Decca set is self-evidently a powerful contender. Cecilia Bartoli is arguably the most personable and musically accomplished Cenerentola since Teresa Berganza recorded the role with Abbado in 1971; and there is a strong cast of supporting principals, among them Alessandro Corbelli who offers the best characterized Dandini since Bruscantini. (With the added advantage of being far more technically expert in fioriture passages than was his distinguished predecessor.)