Very surprisingly, I left this production totally unmoved. Surprise – because thinking about it more thoroughly I could not find any fault in any of the elements creating this beautiful production: singing, acting, staging, music and other features covered below – were all performed at a high, sometimes very high, level. Yet, I have found myself, together with the audience, applauding only politely, even after the familiar show-stoppers of this popular opera. The roof of the Tel Aviv Opera House remained unshaken.
Nearly 200 years after the first performance of La Cenerentola in Rome the opera requires, needs some fresh staging and designing ideas, and it definately got so many of them in this production, originally made for the Opera Royal de Wallonie of Liege. Among them are the revolving stage, exposing all the “secrets” of the back stage; magical illusionists, flying carts, live pigeons and other special effects. Above all – a group of six mimes in perpetual motion, on the stage and in the background, offering their own ironic view on the developments in the plot. Truly charming.
Another hilarious contribution so essential to a comedy was added by the two sisters, Clorinda and Tisbe, beautifully sung by the two mezzo sopranos Yael Levita and Anat Czarny. They were clear, loud and very funny. Annalisa Stroppa was in the key role of Angelina (Cenerentola) with a very pleasant voice but I expected more magic coloratura fanfare than she actually delivered. The same can be said about the tenor Kenneth Traver in the role of the Prince Ramiro and the bass Miklos Sebestyen as Don Magnifico. Both had excellent moments but in others sounded a bit restrained. If you are looking for either the notorious stepmother or the good fairy of the original Cinderella, Rossini decided to do without them…
Another notable ray of light was the Israeli Opera Chorus which sounded excellent, and the same can be said about the Opera Orchestra under the baton of the young Daniel Cohen, the new Kapellmeister at the Deutche Oper Berlin.
Musical historians often consider La Cenerentola as the first effort of Rossini to combine the comic genre (opera buffa) with the more serious and melodramatic one (opera seria) in a single opera. Maybe the lack of excitement, which I felt after the last curtain emerged, was from a slight imbalance between the two – the melodrama in this production was not as shining as the comedy.