Music and Vision homepage Sponsor an article - share it online and reward the author. Music and Vision

 

Ensemble

Comic touches

RODERIC DUNNETT visits
the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden,
for 'La Cenerentola'

 

La Bonte in Trionfo -- 'Virtue Triumphant' -- is the kind of allegorical subtitle Handel might have rejoiced at; and indeed, there is in La Cenerentola something of an Enlightenment throwback in the whole conceit of Alidoro, the wise, all-knowing tutor, intervening to ensure that his ward, the Prince Ramiro, makes the right marriage choice, spurning class and opting for virtue.

No surprise, then, that one of the earlier sources of Giacomo Ferretti's libretto for Rossini's opera turns out to be Charles Perrault's conte (or reworked folk tale) Cendrillon, dating from 1697. Here, to all intents and purposes, we meet the medieval world of Boccaccio and Rabelais reinterpreted through Enlightenment eyes -- sanctified, as it were, as if in a painting by Poussin.

The Royal Opera House has been having a good run recently. Not so much thanks to the wordy vocal lines in Nicholas Maw's setting of the Auschwitz-recalling Sophie's Choice, based on William Styron's 1979 novel (already filmed with the Oscar-winning Meryl Streep, and here starring Angelika Kirschlager in the guilt-torn title role), which intercuts between New York and stories of the Nazi extermination camp near Cracow in Southern Poland,

Angelika Kirschlager as Sophie, in New York, left, and at Auschwitz, right. Photos: Catherine Ashmore/Performing Arts Library
Angelika Kirschlager as Sophie, in New York, left, and at Auschwitz, right. Photos: Catherine Ashmore/Performing Arts Library

as to their buoyant Ariadne auf Naxos [see Roderic Dunnett's M&V review] and the raw brutality of Keith Warner's acclaimed production of Berg's Wozzeck.

Matthias Goerne as Wozzeck in the dissecting room. Photo: Bill Cooper/Performing Arts Library
Matthias Goerne as Wozzeck in the dissecting room. Photo: Bill Cooper/Performing Arts Library

This Wozzeck was notable for the outstanding German baritone Matthias Goerne (already an acclaimed Lieder singer) as an aptly moonfaced protagonist, who headed an outstanding cast, including Eric Halfvarson's grim, obscenely prodding, dissecting Doctor, Graham Clark's bullying Captain, the suitably vile sexual pest of a Drum-Major (Kim Begley) and Katarina Dalayman's unnervingly touching, put-upon Marie (the deranged convict-like soldier's doomed prostitute wife). Abetted by Stefanos Lazaridis' tellingly spare designs, this was the second Royal Opera House production (Ariadne was the first) to be conducted by Antonio Pappano in his capacity as The House's new Music Director.

Matthias Goerne as Wozzeck amid his taunters. Photo : Bill Cooper/Performing Arts Library
Matthias Goerne as Wozzeck amid his taunters. Photo : Bill Cooper/Performing Arts Library

Now to Covent Garden comes lighter fare. Rossini's La Cenerentola (Rome, 1817) is the first of the Royal Opera's 2003 revivals : co-directed by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, this Cinderella seems as wonderful a work as ever, full of witty conceits and comic touches that, as Stendhal suggested (his interesting review notes were included in the programme) any composer worth his salt would have given his right arm for.

Continue >>

Copyright © 7 February 2003 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

-------

 << M&V home       Ensemble home        Gérard Grisey >>