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Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino


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La Cenerentola, Opera by G. Rossini

La Cenerentola, Opera by G. Rossini

The fairy of Cinderella (Cendrillion) by the great French storyteller Charles Perrault has charmed the world many times over. The young Gioachino Rossini was among those admirers of the fantastical story, and he immortalised it in his famous opera La Cenerentola, now playing on the stage of Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence.

Fresh off the success of The Barber of Seville, Rossini was eager to continue working in the genre of operatic dramma giocoso, where his musical talents truly shone. As usual, the young and active composer was under time pressure, so he quickly picked out Cinderella as source material and enlisted Luca Agolini as musical collaborator, who contributed a few recitativos and other solo numbers.

Rossini and his librettist Jacopo Ferretti laboured tirelessly to strip the original Cinderella from all its magical motifs in order to adapt the work to the refined taste of Roman audiences who did not hold ‘children’s stories’ in high regard. Therefore, Rossini’s La Cenerentola lacks fairy godmothers and glass slippers, but it keeps Perrault’s beautiful and kind protagonist.

In this version of the story, Cinderella suffers the abuse of a stepfather and two stepsisters while maintaining hope and poise. Instead of the famous slipper, an elegant bracelet helps the prince identify Cinderella and leads us to the happy ending. This reimagining of the classic fairy tale’s plot would please 19th-century impresarios, audiences, and censors alike.

The success of La Cenerentola was due to the slightly tumultuous relationship between Rossini and Ferretti. Legend has it the composer and librettist raced against one another in completing their parts of the job, and each took a little over three weeks to deliver. The opera had its debut on 25 January 1817 at Teatro Valle in Rome. The critics were not too impressed, unlike audiences who adored it. La Cenerentola quickly overtook The Barber of Seville as Rossini’s most popular stage work at the time, and it soon spread through the rest of Europe as well.

La Cenerentola sparkles with Rossini’s light-hearted melodies and playful orchestration. The title character’s coloratura solos ‘Una volta c’era un re’ and ‘Ah prence, io cado ai vostri piè’ are both technically challenging and ear-tickling. In the lower register, Cinderella’s stepfather delivers a great comic aria with ‘Miei ramipoli’.




image Teatro del Maggio Fiorentino / Michele Monasta