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The seriousness of the message is underlined by Rossini's stylish incorporation -- both near the start and prefacing the final recognition scene -- of Cinderella's exquisite ditty 'Una volta c'era un re' ('Once there was a king'), the dream which turns into reality. The mixed comedy and pathos of Cinderella and the Prince each believing the other to be a servant is inherently strong; so is the indulgent fun of Dandini's comic attempts to treat the prince as an underling and his wicked deflation of Don Magnifico in revenge for his own demotion. Cinderella's pardoning of her 'abusive' family only confirms her suitability as enlightened royalty : it reflects a potent, unvengeful new order.

Simone Alaimo as Don Magnifico with Leah Marion-Jones and Emma Dogliani as the ugly sisters. Photo: Clive Barda/Performing Arts Library
Simone Alaimo as Don Magnifico with Leah Marion-Jones and Emma Dogliani as the ugly sisters. Photo: Clive Barda/Performing Arts Library

If there were weak links in direction and acting, they came from some of the family's tomfoolery -- just the occasional tendency to overdo the buffo by the Sicilian bass-baritone Simone Alaimo (a veritable Don Fiasco) as a drunken (though finely sung) Don Magnifico, and Leiser and Caurier's weakish rehearsing of the sisters -- Emma Dogliani as Clorinda and Leah Marian-Jones as Tisbe, neither of whose acting seemed too well thought-out (stage drollery being a difficult thing to carry off) and neither of whose voices, to be honest, had much appeal from their first exchange (slightly overweighed by the seasoned Rossinian conductor Evelino Pido in the pit, the only point where there were such marked imbalances). There were several weak blockings of the chorus, who acted individually well enough, although -- as press reporters in the first scene -- would not have been universally fooled by Dandini's impersonation.

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Copyright © 7 February 2003 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

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