Scottish Opera: La Cenerentola – Cinderella at the Eden Court, Invereness, 8/11/2014. A review.
Scottish Opera returned to the Eden Court last week to perform Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Inverness audiences were treated to a sumptuous performance by the SO team. Written in 1816 it was apparently written in a bit of a hurry. According to Rossini’s Librettist Jacopo Feretti the words were written in twenty two days and the music in twenty four. There’s likely an element of exaggeration here, but bear in mind Rossini had already written Othello in the same year and had a looming deadline to meet. Scoring an opera isn’t quite as simple as banging a few tunes out on a guitar and hoping for the best!
One thing that stands out with Cinderella is that Rossini dispensed with any of the supernatural elements of the story. This might have disappointed anyone expecting a pre-Xmas panto style opera but in truth I think it improves the story. However if you’re new to opera then this dramma giocoso would be an ideal place to start. There’s plenty of humour and it’s not too heavy going… I’m looking at you in particular Mr Wagner.
The ugly sisters as portrayed by Maire Flavin (Tisbe) and Rebecca Bottone (Clorinda) are played to perfection; utterly shallow and completely gormless to boot, they’re daddy’s girls who of course have little time for their put upon step-sister Angelina (Cinderella). Victoria Yarayova, who plays the title character, moves from thoughtful, mournful minor keys to jaw dropping arias with apparently little trouble. An ideal counterpoint to the operatic twittering of the step-sisters. Softly singing, ‘Once upon a time there was a king who looked for a wife’, Tisbe and Clorinda mercilessly poke fun of her, but Angelina is no shrinking violet and she sings all the louder despite their best efforts to shut her up.
What follows is a near Shakespearean farce, identities are concealed, clothes are swapped and side-long glances and sotto-voce asides to the audience are aplenty. Don Magnifico, Cinderella’s step father, is desperate to get one of his girls married of to the visiting Prince Don Ramiro (Nico Darmanin), the family mansion is falling down around his ears and he’s keen for a cash injection to keep him in the manner he has become accustomed . The prince swaps roles with his aide Dandini (Richard Burkhard) so he can observe the sisters more obtrusively. Dandini revels in his new role, possibly a bit too much, and receives a rebuke from the disguised prince for laying it on a bit thick! Poor Cinderella doesn’t get a look in with the ‘prince’ and Dom Magnifico even goes as far as denying he has a third daughter. However Cinderella catches Don Ramiro’s eye and… well I don’t think I’m giving away any surprises by saying that there is of course a happy ending.
The chorus provide a bit of comic relief if things get a bit too serious and can only be described as large minions in grey suits with glow in the dark ruffs… I suppose you had to be there!
Regardless of the plot, the music is superb. It’s easy to forget that none of the performers have microphones and rely on the sheer power of their voices to reach the furthest reaches of the theatre. The aria Nacqui all’affanno performed by Cinderella during the finale was originally written to be in the Barber of Seville but that opera’s loss is La Cenerentola’s gain. It builds to a jaw dropping crescendo and is a fitting place to leave the now happy couple and the ever so slightly disgruntled stepsisters.
You can see our most recent reviews from the Eden Court here.