Last night was the premiere of Opera North’s new production of Cinderella and our reviewer was there to see it…
Opera North’s Season of Deliciously Dark Fairy Tales continues with the premiere of Cinderella. It’s the most famous fairy tale in their repertoire – and in many ways, it’s also one of the most impressive, thanks to Rossini’s exceptional score. It is nothing short of genius, as the singers voices overlap to create a tune that’s almost addictive – trust me when I say it will get stuck in your head, especially the final scene at the end of Act 1.
You almost don’t need to know what they’re saying, which is lucky, because it’s sung in Italian and the subtitles can be a bit tricky – not only is there a lot of repetition in this opera (in a totally amazing way) but it’s also a much more fast paced opera than usual, so the translations aren’t as abundant as normal.
It helps that you know the story – although you can expect a few unusual twists in this one. It’s set in a dance school for a start, and the evil stepmother is actually a rather hilarious stepfather – Henry Waddington brings real flair to the role, and his dance moves drew many a laugh from the audience. The two sisters were equally entertaining – Sky Ingram and Amy J Payne aren’t your typical Ugly Sisters. They’re vain, egotistical and completely devoid of taste (check out those gaudy dresses), but their voices are stunning, and they rang out amidst the all male chorus with beautiful clarity.
To be honest, the entire cast did Opera North proud. John Savournin had real stage presence as Alidoro, and I found myself watching him wherever he went, while Quirijn de Lang seemed to come instantly to life, not as the Prince, but in his real role as the servant – look out for the portrait fight when Don Magnifico finds out it was all a ruse.
It’s the leads, however, that steal the show. Wallis Giunta was sensational as Cinderella – she has to pull off some serious vocal acrobatics in this opera, and I was amazed that she managed to hit every note of the famous closing aria while dancing around the stage. And let’s not forget Sunnyboy Dladla, his voice was the perfect partner to hers – and he led his band of merry (and ever-so eclectically dressed) men on more than a few rousing numbers.
I was a little thrown by the costumes at first – the Ugly Sisters were farcical, Don Magnifico was stereotypical and the Prince’s entourage was all rock star chic, with a little bit of Strictly Come Dancing glam in the ballroom. It’s a lot to get your head around, and it probably isn’t what you’re expecting, but it worked.
Whether you’re a die hard opera fan or just thinking about dipping your toe in the water, I say go. Go for the music. Go to hear Rossini’s score and Feretti’s Libretto at its absolute best. Go for the experience.
Cinderella runs until Saturday 25th February 2017 at Leeds Grand Theatre. Tickets start at just £10 for under 30s or £15 for everyone else.