La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini. Libretto by Giacomo (Jacopo) Ferretti

Dates and Venue February 1, 2 and 3,, 2018 at 7.30pm, February 4, 2018 at 2pm | Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Conductor Gordon Gerrard Director Nancy Hermiston Costume Consultant Parvin Mirhady Lighting Designer Jeremy Baxter Stage Manager Jacqueline Wax

Cenerentola (Angelina) Simran Claire Prince Ramiro Ian McCloy Dandini Kurt Ward-Theiss Don Magnifico Ian Burns Alidoro Rafael Laurindo Clorinda Ivy Calvert Tisbe Jody Lear

with the UBC Opera Ensemble Chorus and the Vancouver Opera Orchestra

Sung in Italian with English surtitles

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

What better way to spend a cold February evening than with a good book and some music, especially if that book is an old familiar story and the ever-fresh music is by Rossini. Throw in a magnificent set, elegant lighting (by Jeremy Baxter), and costumes out of a royal pageant (Parvin Mirhady) and one can settle in for an evening of enjoyment.

The story of course is ‘Cinderella’,but stripped of its French fantasy and brought up to date, (or at least, up to 1816 when La Cenerentola was written). There are no pumpkin coaches, magic mice or transformed frogs, no glass slipper and especially no fairy godmother. No matter. This is still the tale of an unfortunate young woman unloved by her family and of a privileged young man looking for a wife. Magic still happens and it is love.

Rossini’s music scintillates with coloratura effects. Happily, every one of the principals is blessed with a secure coloratura technique. Don Magnifico (Ian Burns) rattled through his patter-songs with self-confident pomposity. Clorinda (Ivy Calvert) and Tisbe (Jody Lear), the step-sisters and very mean girls, dealt with their sharp-edged and tastelessly ornamented arias with superior complacency though they were not so successful in over-coming the difficulties of wearing hooped skirts. Their inability to get up off the stage after a fall became a running gag throughout the show.

Cheerfully disguised as the Prince himself, Kurt Ward-Theiss charmed in his role of Dandini, the prince’s valet. Affable and slightly self-deprecating, he went about his task of checking out the potential brides with light airiness. In contrast, Rafael Laurindo’s Alidoro brought considerable weight and moral authority to his part as the Prince’s philosopher-tutor and life coach who sets in motion and stage-manages the plot with wisdom and kindness.

Vocal lines of elegance and grace distinguished both Ian McCloy (Ramirez) and Simran Claire (Angelina). Claire’s warm mezzo was a perfect match for McCloy’s expressive tenor. McCloy suggested just the right degree of strength of character, fluent in Rossini’s passionate pyrotechnics and reaching his dizzying top notes with apparent ease. Claire’s sincerity was clear from the start and after a nicely-judged arc exploded joyfully in her dazzling final aria.

Nancy Hermiston’s straightforward stage direction was clear and uncluttered, allowing plenty of space for her singers to shine. The UBC Opera Ensemble Chorus, entirely male, performed with efficiency, aplomb and a keen sense of humour. Dramatically their finest moment came as they changed the set while the orchestra depicted a raging storm. Large pieces of furniture seemed to need to be held down by force while chairs were blown off stage by the gale. Conductor Gordon Gerrard and the Vancouver Opera Orchestra were unfaltering, setting a comfortable pace for the singers, holding the ensembles together, supporting the soloists and keeping the music dancing along.

© 2018 Elizabeth Paterson