Jeff has reported over at Rebel Prince about our outing last night to see the Washington Opera production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola. It was a very enjoyable evening, even though it appears that we differed somewhat in our reviews of the performers. He said:
…I wasn’t familiar with La Cenerentola–though it’s basically the Cinderella story–so it was interesting to hear the music for the first time and be carried along by a plot that takes some departures from our well-known version of the tale. An excerpt from the program notes:
Audience members unfamiliar with the opera may be surprised to find the more fanciful elements of the fairy tale, as immortalized by the storyteller Charles Perrault or animator Walt Disney, completely missing. There is no fairy godmother, no pumpkin carriage, and even the glass slippers have been transformed into a simple pair of bracelets.
In another departure, this production gives the opera a mid-20th century setting. The prevalent formal attire is a suit and tie, Cenerentola is carried off to the palace in a luxury car, and the chorus often takes the form of camera-wielding papparazzi. The set, which a Post critic wrote looks like John Waters’ Baltimore, is bright, and a little surreal, I thought, given its extreme forced perspective. (It has such a steeply raked floor that we feared one or two of the singers might come rolling into the orchestra pit if they leaned too far downstage.) Some of the staging, especially during the inner monologues, bolstered the surreality, comically so at times, with the actors seeming to wander about confusedly in a kind of daydream.
The singing was rather good; everyone ably took on the trademark Rossini vocal acrobatics, and Sonia Ganassi’s (Cenerentola) voice sparkled, though her facial contortions (or supposedly comic mugging?) was a bit distracting. The smoldering Jesús Garcia (Don Ramiro, the prince), whom I saw previously as Rodolfo in Baz’s La Bohème, did a good job, but was overshadowed by the affable Simone Alberghini (Dandini, the prince’s valet, with whom he exchanges identities). And the singers who played Cenerentola’s family were all good comic foils to the lovebirds: Hoo-Ryoung Hwang and Ann McMahon Quintero (stepsisters Clorinda and Tisbe), and Alfonso Antoniozzi (Don Magnifico, the stepfather). …
And I commented:
Interesting. I wasn’t as impressed by the singing, which I thought on the whole was merely satisfactory (I saw Tosca in Tucson last year, and it featured some awe-inspiring performances, especially from the lead; I guess I had even higher expectations for a city like Washington). I also didn’t find Alberghini overshadowing Garcia notably, though admittedly that might have been because I found Garcia much more physically attractive, so I was probably cutting him some slack without realizing it at the time. 🙂
As for Ganassi’s “facial contortions,” I found them wildly distracting; if they were meant to be a comic affectation rather than an unfortunate natural characteristic, they seemed out of place with the rest of the cast’s more understated comedic turns. I kept expecting her to suddenly start shouting out obscenities to match what I almost took to be the physical manifestations of Tourette’s.
I don’t mean to sound overly negative, though. I thoroughly enjoyed myself last night. I just think my expectations going into it perhaps were higher than perhaps they should have been; this was, after all, my first attendance at the Washington Opera, so I should have gone in with no preconceptions.
The renovated Opera House certainly was gorgeous and spectacular, though, ne?
Hm. We live together. Is it weird that we’re having a conversation, of sorts, through our blogs?