Opera Abbreviated Podcast: 'Cendrillon,' the French Cinderella

Apr 24, 2018

The Metropolitan Opera presents a new production of Jules Massenet's Cendrillon, screened live in HD at movie theaters worldwide at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 28.

We know her as Cinderella. Her creator, Charles Perrault, called her Cendrillon — as does Massenet in his 1898 opera.

Here's my take on Massenet's delightful Cendrillon, with everything you need to know to enjoy this weekend's Met performance. Bring the kids. This is a 2.5-hour comic enchantment.

Joyce DiDonato sings the title role in the Met production, with Alice Coote as the Prince, Laurent Naouri as Pandolfe and Stephanie Blythe as stepmother Madame de la Haltiere. Bertrand de Billy conducts. Laurent Pelly staged the production and designed the costumes, and Barbara de Limburg designed the set.

It's an opera neglected by the Met until now. I recall seeing it only once, in a delightful New York City Opera production in 1983 with Faith Esham in the title role and Maureen Forrester as the ridiculous stepmother. New York City Opera's Cendrillon also marked the first time opera subtitles were used in New York.

Massenet gives us the story we all know and love — Fairy Godmother, glass slipper, terrible stepsisters, sad heroine, love-sick prince and a happy ending. And yes, we even get the carriage, the horses and the midnight curfew.