CU Eklund Opera Program presents Rossini’s La Cenerentola
By Peter Alexander
No glass slippers or fairy godmother? What kind of Cinderella is that?
Actually, it’s Rossini’s opera La Cenerentola (Cinderella), and it’s the current production of the CU Eklund Opera Program. Performances this weekend will be Friday and Saturday (Oct. 23–24) at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday (Oct. 25) at 2 p.m. in CU Macky Auditorium. CU faculty member Nicholas Carthy will conduct the student orchestra and guest artist Bill Fabris will direct.
The cast features three graduate students—one performance each—in the demanding mezzo-soprano role of Cinderella: Taylor Raven, Rebecca Robinson and Christina Adams. The tenor role of Ramiro, aka the Prince, will be sung by Max Hosmer, a CU post-graduate, and CU faculty member Matthew Chellis (Saturday only).
Although it is based on the familiar Charles Perrault version of the fairy-tale, Rossini’s opera makes several changes to downplay magic and put more stress on Cinderella’s goodness of heart. The glass slippers are gone; instead, the prince recognizes Cinderella by a bracelet that she has worn at the ball. The cruel stepmother is replaced by a cruel stepfather, and the fairy godmother is replaced by a philosopher.
However, the greatest change makes the prince more of an actor in the drama. Because he wants to know the true nature of the young women he might marry, he switches places with his servant. In this way he learns about the selfishness of Cinderella’s sisters. Likewise, he observes the cruelty and arrogance of Cinderella’s stepfather, who is desperate to marry one of his daughters to the prince, and he experiences Cinderella’s kindness.
Aldoro, the philosopher who stands in for the usual fairy godmother, also appears in disguise, and sees that Cinderella is the one truly good person of her family. It is for that reason that he intervenes to get her to the ball.
Leigh Holman, director of the Eklund Opera Program, described the CU Cenerentola as a “relatively traditional” production set at the turn of the 20th century. “It’s hilarious, truly a comedy,” she says. “But unlike the Disney version, it’s also more grounded and realistic.
“What I enjoy most about this opera are its pervasive themes of character development. Cinderella is neglected and oppressed by an abusive father, but she learns to let that go. Because of the glorious love she’s found, forgiveness grows before regret and resentment take root. It’s a story of transcendence.”
A free-lance stage director who works in opera and music theater around the country, Fabris was engaged for the CU production on short notice when Holman was unable to be in Boulder for the rehearsals and performances. Not having done La Cenerentola for some time, he was happy not to deal with an unusual concept for the show. “It’s a little updated but still a traditional production,” he says, “which is fine with me, coming late in the process.”
When he arrived, Fabris was impressed with the student cast. “When I found out that most all of the roles are double cast, I thought, wow! And then I got here, and they’re doing it! They know what they’re singing they know how to manipulate all the fast runs.
“These wonderful young artists and their vocal gymnastics are amazing. Wait until you see it!”
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CU Eklund Opera Program
Bill Fabris, stage director
Nicholas Carthy, conductor
7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 24
2:00 pm. Sunday, Oct. 25