8 June 2012

La Cenerentola at Glyndebourne (2012)

Somehow it is five years since I last saw La Cenerentola at Glyndebourne.

I liked it a lot then so it was an easy decision to see it again. That decision was made easier still when friends of mine chose it as the opera that they wanted to see at Glyndebourne this year.

To make sure that I saw it I left the box office with a wide choice of dates and they booked me in just three days after The Cunning Little Vixen. That was not exactly what I wanted but I made the best of it and got used to the idea of going to Glyndebourne twice in a week, taking two half-day holidays to do so.

Going to Glyndebourne is almost routine now, especially with these friends who have been going for years, and the technicalities of the picnic, travel and dress were easily sorted. And, despite some atrocious traffic through Tolworth that cost us half an hour or more, we still got there in time to bag one of the picnic tables by the opera house itself. In fact it was the same table I had had three days earlier.

I also got the seats that I wanted.

These are mid-price (around £75) and while they are almost at the very back they are also very central and so the view is excellent.

The sound is not a problem either as the acoustics are good and the singers know how to fill a hall with sound. No mikes here.

La Cenerentola was even better than I remembered it.

The story has lots of elements to it and quite a few main characters as a result, such as the prince's man servant and consul, both of whom first appear in disguise.

The staging is both simple and wonderful. The two locations have just enough detail to explain what they are and to carry the plot, likewise the costumes. The acting is excellent and adds considerably to the entertainment.

Cinderella's step-father and two step-sisters, they are not ugly, are wonderful as the desperate social climbers as they fawn over the prospect of becoming royal.

There were a couple of nice touches in the stage directions too. When Cinderella is revealed at the ball (though at that time nobody recognises her) everybody literally stops still apart from the one person singing. Then they move slightly before stopping again when the singing continues.

Later on the main characters all come to the front of the stage and sing to us about how interwoven the story has become and as they do so they interweave amongst themselves. simple, clever and very effective.

Musically this is traditional opera with lots of good music and lots of good songs. A lot of the time the singing was directly to us in the audience as the characters explained their thoughts and hopes.

The singing was tremendous, especially Cinderella, and that made the whole opera all but perfect. Not that there were any flaws in it at all, I just do not like to call anything perfect.

I found The Cunning Little Vixen earlier in the week a little slight and even silly so it was good to be reminded so quickly of how good Glyndebourne can be when all the pieces come together.

La Cenerentola shows off all of Glyndebourne's strengths and is thoroughly entertaining in to the bargain.

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