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"I am a great fan of Cecilia Bartoli, and have been so, since this, her role as the title character, in Rossini's La Cenerentola. In my opinion, Bartoli is one of the most beautiful, dynamic and brilliant mezzo sopranos of our time. She has such a rich and beautiful tone, to her phrasing, as well as her general delivery of the songs in her repertoire.
This, the Houston Opera House production, is about as far away from Disney's Cinderella as you can get. So, before you consider seeing this operatic version of Cinderella, discount all of your preconceived notions. La Cenerentola (Cecilia Bartoli), is a beautiful, selfless and very mistreated young lady, who is regularly taken advantage of by her wicked stepfather and equally wicked stepsisters. The stepsisters (with father in tow) are invited to a the prince's ball, where he will select the lucky lady who will become his wife. Of course, La Cenerentola is not allowed to attend the ball, and is expected to sit at home while her wicked family has all of the fun. However, fate has other plans. There isn't a fairy godmother in the picture, so much as a Philosopher, who is watching out for the poor girl's best interest.
The cast is so strong here. Particularly notable is the great performance by Raul Gimenez (a great Chilean tenor, who plays the part of Don Ramiro, the romantic prince). You will laugh and maybe even shed a tear over this beautiful production. The music is absolutely soaring and lovely to listen to."
The production can make or break an opera...
Jennie Johanson | 04/27/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"While this is a delightful opera, I felt that the production was lacking in many ways. For one thing, Cecilia Bartoli does not look at all as Cinderella should. Mostly because she is obviously overweight, it's hard to see why the prince is SO captivated by her appearance. The prince himself did not look half as handsome (or young) as Prince Charming should, although I could forgive these small faults if those were my only objections to this recording. I realize that Raul Giminez and Cecilia Bartoli were not chosen for their looks but for their vocal talent. However, that's not the only problem. The make-up people did a HORRENDUOUS job on the prince's valet, Dandini, making him as ugly as possible. The step-sisters were worse...who's idea was it to make them wear flower pots on their heads!!! I thought that this was completely unnecessary. Even the lighting and sets were dark and ugly. Visually, the whole production was very poorly executed, although the singing was fine. This comic opera in and of itself is delightful, but I would much more highly recommend the 2006 Deutsche Gramophone DVD starring Frederica von Stade. The singing is just as beautiful, and the singers, sets, makeup and costumes are infinitely more so.
EDIT: The aforementioned opera movie was filmed in 1981; it was released on DVD in 2006."
Flawed but a Knock-Out
drkhimxz | Freehold, NJ, USA | 08/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I see at this late date, there are plenty of reviews with the usual variation in opinion. Natural, since none of us see or hear the same production, none of us weigh elements in the same way. On the less than positive side, I found the scenic design rather depressing even in the scenes in which that was not the intended result. Clearly the design which was reasonable for the cinders scenes could not be adequately brightened for the palace scenes. With a pang of guilt, given their lowly status, I found the chorus and other supportive players, rather poorly molded into appropriate presences. No fault of theirs, of course, and the chorus did sing well. These were only slight distractions, however, from the impact of Rossini well sung and more than adequately played. That Dara displayed a failing voice is news to me. Perhaps my ordinary sound system (and less than ordinary hearing) did not catch nuances; for he not only acted superbly the role of a traditional Italian actor-singer playing Don Magnifico, he sounded marvelously well singing the part. The Prince and his Valet were admirably handled by Gimenez and Corbelli. All involved are to be congratulated on allowing Rossini to be heard as he should be in the various individual and group songs that he created. These all were delivered with the elan required to give us the kind of kick that rock concerts must give their adherents. Oh, yes, Bartoli. I suppose she did look far too healthy for an oppressed menial. Yes, I did notice what one would not notice from my seats at an opera, she had not at that time mastered, what I assume is quite difficult, creating the broad expression necessary for live theater while at the same time not overdoing what the camera closeup will amplify. Did you really care when she sang, were you not stirred by her true star quality in the concluding aria which roused the audience to a peak....as it did me as well. That was a star at work and what a pleasure to see and hear."
La Cenerentola- Rossini's Comic Opera
Carlos Ivan Grimas Acosta | David, Panama | 08/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently got La Cenerentola Rossini's comic opera and I dare to say that this is a great production. Of course, I refer the Bologna production of this opera for the Houston Grand Opera in 1995. Cecilia Bartoli do her best mezzo coloratura singing and acting in this opera as never seen and heard before. Argentinian light tenor Raul Gimenez is superb in his great singing and acting qualities perhaps the best role before the nowdays peruvian Juan Diego Flores. Bass Enzo Dara despite his age sings and acts delightfuly the buffo art which make him unique bravo! I sincerely recomend this dvd not just for Rossini opera lovers but also for anyone who wish to be in touch more with the art of comic opera."
Beautiful Production and DVD
J. De Sapio | Washington, DC | 06/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Roberto de Simone's intimate, 1790's LA CENERENTOLA for the Teatro Communale di Bologna was presented at Houston Grand Opera in 1994 and telecast the following year. The production is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen of an opera; the sets and costumes look like fanciful children's book illustrations. True, the direction is often rather static; but de Simone's aim seems to have been to create a truly "period" staging - a production that might have been put on in Rossini's own time. Bruno Campanella's effervescent conducting is in keeping with this chamber-opera feel: it may lack something in dramatic weight (CENERENTOLA is perhaps the most "serious" of Rossini's comedies), but at least the maestro never Romanticizes Rossini, never tries to make the music sound like something it is not.
The telecast was Cecilia Bartoli's American TV debut, and as Angelina she completely justified the "hype" that surrounded her at the time. Her mezzo is a marvel: multi-hued and shaded, clear and delicate, yet quite dramatic where it needs to be (in the Quintet, for example). She inhabits the character of Cenerentola, as does Raul Gimenez that of Prince Ramiro. His and Bartoli's Act I duet ("Un soave non so che") is an oasis of calm in a witty Rossinian fairy tale. The almost heroic weight of which Gimenez's voice is capable is all the more effective in contrast to his exquisitely soft and subtle singing in the greater portion of the opera.
The supporting cast includes Enzo Dara (Don Magnifico), Alessandro Corbelli (Dandini), and Michele Pertusi (Alidoro). Corbelli's Dandini has since become legendary (a British critic once called it one of the finest operatic characterizations of our day), and here one can see why: it is subtle, humorous, and very richly sung. Veteran buffo Dara as the stepfather looks like Ed Wynn (of MARY POPPINS and "I Love to Laugh" fame). Unfortunately, there are times during the performance when I almost think I would rather hear Ed Wynn sing the role; Dara's voice at first sounds fresh and strong, but in Act II he hits some incredible "clinkers." Along with this his acting tends to be too silly; altogether, he is no match for Corbelli's subtlety in their Act II duet. (Dara's card-throwing in his third aria is a rare instance of inspired silliness, particularly in combination with his perfect patter.) Young bass Pertusi, however, provides plenty of vocal freshness in his lengthy, wonderful aria "La del ciel." His voice, not large, is dark in color and amazingly agile. Laura Knoop and Jill Gove have pure, Rossinian voices and much character as the stepsisters.
Having loved this CENERENTOLA on videotape for several years, I was thrilled to receive the DVD, with its perfect sound and picture quality. The Bologna/HGO CENERENTOLA is a beautiful production that one can enjoy again and again. I treasure it!