Opera Scotland

Cendrillon Cinderella

Music
Jules Massenet (born Montaud, Loire, 12 May 1842; died Paris, 13 August 1912)

Text
Henri Cain.

Source
Story Cendrillon (Contes de ma Mère l’Oye 1697) by Charles Perrault (1628-1703).

Premières
First performance: Paris (Opéra-Comique), 24 May 1899.
First UK performance: London (Little Theatre), 24 December 1928.
First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 26 January 2006.
Scottish Opera première: N/A (Orchestra & technical assistance as above).

Background
The subtlety and attractiveness of Massenet’s music, combined with the familiarity of the story, make it surprising that this work has been so neglected. Compared with the enormously popular version by Rossini, it is closer to the familiar pantomime plot, retaining an element of the supernatural, as well as the accepted convention of the principal boy being a female singer in travesty. There is an additional element of confusion between the actual world and a world of dreams in which Cinderella and the Prince meet before they are finally united. As with Manon, Massenet shows a deft hand when creating pastiche period music, including sequences for ballet.

Main Characters
Lucette, known as Cendrillon (soprano)
Pandolfe, her father (bass)
Madame de la Haltière, his wife (mezzo-soprano)
Noémie, her daughter (soprano)
Dorothée, her second daughter (mezzo-soprano)
Le Prince Charmant (soprano or tenor)
La Fée (soprano)
Le Roi (baritone)

Plot Summary
Madame de la Haltière and her daughters make life miserable for her second husband, Pandolfe, and his daughter. They go to a state ball at which a consort for the Prince is to be chosen, leaving Cinderella behind, but she is taken there by a fairy, who dresses her magnificently and gives her glass slippers which provide a disguise. A number of eligible females are presented at the ball, but the Prince falls in love with the disguised Cinderella, and vice versa. She is obliged to leave the ball as midnight strikes, leaving one of the slippers behind. On her return home, Cinderella tells the fairy that she is unworthy of the Prince’s love. Madame and the sisters are scathing about the mysterious guest at the ball, while Pandolfe admits he found her quite appealing. He is at last exasperated by the vanity of his wife and stepdaughters and throws them out. In a dream, Cinderella is reunited with the Prince due to the help of the fairy. When she awakes, Pandolfe comforts her by persuading her that the ball itself was all a dream. Later, when the Prince tours the country in his search for the possessor of the other slipper, Madame makes a final attempt to help her daughters’ claims, and it is necessary for the fairy to intervene once again to unite the Prince with Cinderella.

The Cast

Dorothée
 Madame's second daughter
Doyen du Faculté
 
La Fée
 
Le Roi
 
Lucette
 known as 'Cendrillon'
Madame de la Haltière
 Pandolfe's second wife
Noémie
 Madame's elder daughter
Pandolfe
 Lucette's father
Premier Ministre
 
Prince Charmant
 
Surintendent des plaisirs
 

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