La Cenerentola, live relay from the Metropolitan Opera, New York, May 2009


As the pompous father, Don Magnifico we had the incomparable Alessandro Corbelli, whom I saw at Covent Garden and at Glyndebourne in 2007. He is simply wonderful, playing the part quite straight because, as he said in an intermission interview, these ridiculous people do not realise they are ridiculous. His two fancy daughters, the ‘ugly sisters’ were well played by Rachelle Durkin and Patricia Risley, again without overdoing the farce. As Dandini the valet we had Simone Alberghini, doing a great job of playing up to the idea of being prince for a couple of days, and loving it. As to the serious characters, John Relyea’s commanding voice and strong stage presence made him an unusually powerful prince’s tutor. Lawrence Brownlee was a beautifully voiced prince who sang like a god, though his short stature was an awkward disadvantage as he couldn’t measure up to the poise and beauty of Elina Garanča as Cenerentola, the household slave and third daughter of Don Magnifico who is roundly abused by her half sisters and father. While she was the star of the show, Alessandro Corbelli was superb with his perfect comic timing, particularly in the wine tasting scene, and later when dispossessed of his illusions in the duet with Dandini.

The production by Cesare Lievi, with set and costume designs by Maurizio Balo and lighting by Gigi Saccomandi, worked very well, and the camera work was excellent. The conducting by Maurizio Benini was full of élan and the ensemble pieces were sung to perfection. There was just one serious glitch, at least in the cinema I was in, because the sound was slightly behind the camera work, making the performers look as if they were miming their parts to pre-recorded vocalizations. Let us hope this never happens again.

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