Scottish Opera’s Cinderella (La Cenerentola)
WITH Rossini’s version of Cinderella chucking out the supernatural for a more grounded version of the tale — no fairy-godmother or pumpkin carriage and even the iconic glass slipper replaced by a bracelet — it was up to the cast to supply the magic at Eden Court.
Fortunately they did just that, from the principals to the large chorus of servants in electrified ruff collars who came across as distant and more human relations of Despicable Me’s lovable Minions.
Performed a simple but elegant set of revolving magic cabinets, this co-production by Scottish Opera and Strasbourg’s Opéra National du Rhin gave deserved top billing to Russian mezzo Victoria Yarovaya as a more feisty Cinderella who requires no otherworldly assistance to enchant handsome Prince Don Ramiro (Maltese tenor Nico Darmanin).
However, there was a challenge from her fellow female performers Rebecca Bottone as Clorinda and Maire Flavin as Tisbe, sisters who were less ugly than in need of a good stylist — as demonstrated by a couple of wolf whistles during their curtain call. Vain and snobby, but very far from classy, and with barely a brain cell to share between them, the "cabbage-hearted" pair are in the fine panto tradition of wicked step-sisters you love to hate. Even if you cannot resist a sneaky affection for them.
As their father, Graeme Danby is a blustering and greedy comic menace, well deserving of his last act comeuppance — especially for having the temerity to wear that pink suit, but possibly the best of the male performers is Richard Burkhard’s cheeky Dandini, gleefully enjoying the chance to play the prince for the day and teasing Cinder’s wicked step-family with favours he knows he never has to deliver.
A 90 minute first act may be pushing it towards the edge of the audience’s patience, but the second act picks up the pace as it heads towards that happy ending, with its more dashing tunes allowing for some flashy vocals and visual flourishes and well organised ensemble pieces.
Tuesday’s turn-out suggests this Rossini is a harder sell than Scottish Opera’s Barber of Seville of a couple of years ago or its more recent forays into Mozart and Puccini, but it still delivers an entertaining evening, magic or not.
Scottish Opera's Cinderella continues at the Empire Theatre, Eden Court, at 7.15pm on Thursday 6th and Saturday 8th November.