Vancouver Opera
Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola

Dates and Venue April 27 & May 12 at 2pm; May 2 at 12:30pm; May 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, & 11 at 7:30pm | Vancouver Playhouse

Conductor Leslie Dala Director Rachel Peake Scenic Designer Daniel Meeker Costume Designer Sue Bonde Lighting Designer Alan Brodie Stage Manager Melania Radelicki

Cenerentola Simone McIntosh Don Ramiro Charles Sy Don Magnifico Peter McGillvray Alidoro Tyler Simpson Dandini Daniel Thielmann Clorinda Nicole Joanne Brooks Tisbe Gena van Oosten

Sung in Italian with English SURTITLES TM

Reviewer John Jane

Vancouver Opera’s third annual festival got off to a wonderful start with an opening performance of Gioacchino Rossini’s La Cenerentola. Absent (thankfully) from this production was the magic of Disney, but it’s the magical component of FUN that makes this production of La Cenerentola truly special.

This year’s Opera Festival theme is Fairytales & Fables and La Cenerentola might just fit into both categories. The name Cinderella has become synonymous with one who unexpectedly attains acceptance or success following a period of unjust oppression. In Rossini’s version (together with librettist Jacopo Ferretti) the glass slipper is replaced with a diamond bracelet, the wicked stepmother is banished in favour of an audience-friendly, buffoonish stepfather.

There is no fairy godmother, and really, no ugly sisters. Sure, our heroine’s half siblings Clorinda and Tisbe are selfish brats, but soprano Nicole Joanne Brooks and mezzo-soprano Gena van Oosten enchant the audience with their physical comedy and outrageous clothing and hairstyles that match each of their personas. The pair, always on stage together, display amazing vocal stamina over the entire performance.

Peter McGillvray is magnificent as the foolish and pompous Don Magnifico. The Sudbury baritone’s penchant for comedy is apparent when retelling his dream in the aria buffo Miei rampolli femminini sung in trio with Clorinda and Tisbe. McGillvray’s natural comic touch shines through again in his duet with Danilo (Daniel Thielmann) as the mischievous valet strings him along in Un segreto d’importanza.

Toronto tenor Charles Sy turns in a stellar performance as the romantic hero Don Ramiro. He delivers his plaintive solo aria Si, ritroverla io guiro with breathtaking sensitivity.

Mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh, who coincidentally shares the same name and virtually identical career path as Simone Osbourne who plays Marguerite in Faust, the other festival offering, is a natural in the title role of Cinderella. Her wholesome appearance and moxie sets her apart from the other members of her dysfunctional family. Her lengthy quintetto Signore, una parola sung with Ramiro, Don Magnifico, Alidoro and Dandini where she convinces with gusto that she is entitled to go to the ball, is a high point.

Director Rachel Peake makes sure that, throughout all the exhilarating action on stage, it’s Gioacchino Rossini’s glorious music that is of paramount importance. While the show is long – over two and a half hours – the perfect pacing ensures the audience never tires.

Under the direction of Maestro Leslie Dala, the Vancouver Opera Orchestra maintained consistent tempi interpreting Rossini’s light-hearted style with clarity. This Vancouver Opera production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola can be recommended as excellent entertainment for people of all ages.

© 2019 John Jane