Thursday, February 4, 2010

La Cenerentola @ Théatre des Champs-Elysées

Michael Güttler, conductor
Irina Brook, director

Antonino Siragusa, Don Ramiro
Stéphane Degout, Dandini
Pietro Spagnoli, Don Magnifico
Carla Di Censo, Clorinda
Nidia Palacios, Tisbe
Vivica Genaux, Angelina
Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, Alidoro

I guess it was a mistake not to take at least a week off between Rienzi and this Cenerentola
The show is all good: it's the usual vocal fireworks with really good singers, it's a good orchestra [Concerto Köln], the conductor is maybe a bit too dry for my liking but nothing really bothersome, and the staging is actually very good (perhaps the best I've seen for this opera), but... but I didn't get into the groove. Rienzi is still stuck in my head, and I'm still listening to that music over and over... and over again. Hopeless...

This run of Cenerentola is actually the second rerun of the production premiered in 2003, which I didn't see before. The story is placed in the typical Italian bar, old - built in the early-Eighties (c.f. pic above) in which nothing ever changed as Don Magnifico was always short of money. There're many funny details on the sets [TV with unavoidable calcio, posters with the soccer players on the wall, La Squadra Azzura, small flags of "Lazio", the pics of Gianni Morandi...] and since the stage was uncovered before the show started, I was scanning all of them [the details] and laughed ---> yes,  the people around me were looking strangely at me as if I was some major weirdo [which I'm not ;)]  Many  details during the show corroborate the impression that Irina Brook really did lots of research to connect her show with Italy, instead of just a clowny unrealistic caricature which we usually see (e.g. the Met production).  Don Ramiro is, for example, a celebrity whose face is on the cover of the People magazine -- indeed a prototype of the Italian prince today :)  
The Ball is a modern party with DJ and videos... Don Ramiro and his crew open the maps and laptops, to Google-Map search for Angelina... It's filled with welcoming ideas to rejuvenate this opera and make it as fun to watch as ever.
The cheap jokes are however unavoidable in any production of Rossini-buffo, so you get a good pack of them here too.
The rhythm of the show is captivating. All the comedians are good in their roles, with Pietro Spagnoli fully resonating with the show. He's totally at ease; he must have done hundreds of Cenerentola's so far -- but this was actually the first time I saw him as Don Magnifico. During the intermission --in the halls of the theater-- there was arranged an exhibition of his photos. He's apparently a passionate photographer and takes a nice pictures of his colleagues. Here are three examples which indeed tell about the character of each of these three singers (Luca Pisaroni, Lawrence Brownlee and Alexandrina Pendatchanska)
The other protagonists were very good too. I very much like Antonino Siragusa who was fantastic in the Barbiere at Opéra Bastille, and sensational in his recent recital with Sumi Jo at TCE. It is the same format of voice as Juan Diego Florez, only unjustly underrated IMO. Here he had his moment with "Si, ritrovarla, lo giuro" where he effortlessly nailed all his high-C's, and the crowd loved it. 
I was glad to see Ildebrando d'Arcangelo back in good form, after all sorts of troubles he's been having recently. Last night he was him-usual-self:  entertaining & visibly enjoying the show. Unfortunately some of his cheap jokes were my major obstacle to get osmosed into the show, but that's probably more my problem than of the show itself.

Finally, Vivica Genaux ; forget about Sarah Palin, it's Vivica -- Alaska's finest woman to be a star. ;) Many people criticize the timbre of her voice --even those who can't say anything about her impeccable technique-- but I actually find her voice particularly appealing. What's the point in listening to the same formated voices,  just with different names and faces?!  She brings something new, something her's on the line, it's often surprising and I like it. Plus she's a good actress. The final rondo "Nacqui all'affanno" was great.  BRAVA !

I noticed three promotional videos of this production posted on YT by lucarden [with the previous -slightly different- cast]: c.f. Video 1, 2, and 3. Enjoy!

And yes, I was still in a good enough mood to take a few pics ;) 

Siragusa, d'Arcangelo,Genaux, Spagnoli, di Censo(?)

Guttler, Genaux, Spagnoli, di Censo(?)

Vivica Genaux


A lady who waits for you outside the Theater to tell you that it's late, you're insane - you gotta work tomorrow! ;)


  1. AND GUESS WHAT! Spagnoli is a Lazio FC tifoso!

  2. Aaah thanks! So everything comes to its place. Now I'd like to understand who's a Gianni Morandi fan in the crew. Ildebrando?? :-)

  3. Hej!
    I'm sooo jealous, I wasn't there!!

    But what do you mean by all sorts of troubles Ildebrando has been having recently??


  4. Hey there! He was sidelined for several months for fatigue that apparently reflected on lower volume of his voice so he kept forcing it to the point it became dangerous. So he took a break from everything and even canceled the tour of recitals that had to boost the sell of his new CD (Handel arias)...

    OK, he's back now and he seems to be in good form ;)

  5. why people invent all this bull shit ...Ildebrando he canceled the recitals because was busy for another job ;-))))

  6. I hope you're right, but at the end the most important is that he's in good form now.