La Cenerentola, Opera Holland Park, OHP, July 2016Posted on 15 July 2016
Rossini’s delightful Cenerentola is just the thing for Opera Holland Park, particularly in this charming a witty Oliver Platt production brought to life by a fine cast.
The splendid designs by Neil Irish contrast the black, white and silver of the courtiers in the ball scene, with the garish colours of the ugly sisters and their father, and I love the way the curved wall of their dilapidated Baronial home can transform in an instant to the elegance of the palace. In the semi-daylight of the first act Mark Jonathan’s lighting creates an aura of intimacy, changing simultaneously with the style of music, for example from recitative to quintet. OHP are doing marvels with simple staging these days, leaving the large houses with their far more elaborate facilities occasionally looking rather foolish.
The cast of seven singers headed by Victoria Simmonds as Angelina (Cinderella) made a magnificent team, and her delivery of rapid coloratura was a class act. Fleur de Bray as the soprano sister Clorinda, combining charming absurdity with outraged arrogance, and Heather Lowe as the mezzo-sister Tisbe, providing a mellower portrayal but with no less narcissism, both sang beautifully. They made a marvellous trio with Jonathan Veira as their father, the delusional Don Magnifico, whose outsize pomposity and occasional rapid-fire recitative, was a delight.
On the palace side, Nico Darmanin made a handsome and well sung Prince Ramiro, with Nicholas Lester as his valet Dandini — and partner in deception of the arrogantly impecunious Monte Fiascone family — singing with admirable firmness after an uncertain start. Their great difference in height was a bonus, making the switching of roles all the more convincing. The wit and skill of this story is due to the librettist Jacopo Ferretti and of course Rossini himself, who did not want magic to feature in his opera, changing the slipper to a bracelet, and the fairy godmother to the philosopher Alidoro, splendidly sung and portrayed here by Barnaby Rea, who delivered a very stylish soliloquy Là del ciel nell’arcano profondo (In the mysterious depths of heaven).
The movement and placing of everyone on stage was beautifully done, with brilliantly executed dancing for the superb large chorus in the ball scene, thanks to Movement Director Emma Brunton. And bringing all this together with a careful eye for the singers was Dane Lam, who conducted with a splendidly light touch. A wonderful team effort and another feather in the cap of Opera Holland Park.
Performances continue on various dates until July 30 — for details click here.