Cendrillon (Cinderella)

Cendrillon (Cinderella) at Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Cendrillon (Cinderella)

Cendrillon (Cinderella) at Lyric Opera of Chicago



by Jules Massenet
Sung in French with projected English translations


Massenet adapted Cinderella with an irresistible blend of wit, sensitivity, and elegance. The love duets are the very essence of romance, but there’s hilarity, too, thanks to the most outrageous of all stepmothers. And if you want to hear glittering top notes sail into the stratosphere, there’s the vocally high-flying fairy godmother. At the heart of Cendrillon is the delectable heroine—and when she sings to her beloved, “You are my Prince Charming,” it’s truly magical!


NIB Foundation
Invesco QQQ


Produced in association with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London; Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie, Brussels; and Opéra de Lille. This production was first performed at The Santa Fe Opera.

Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes with 1 intermission


Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Cendrillon (Cinderella) Opera Resources

Join us in the theater one hour before the curtain rises for a free, 30-minute preview talk about the opera. Learn more about pre-opera talks.

Cendrillon at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Opera Commentary

commentary by Roger Pines, Dramaturg

(right click and "Save Target As" / "Save Link As")
Cendrillon at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Audio Highlights

"Menuet de Cendrillon"

"Marche des princesses"

Cendrillon at Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Cendrillon at Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Music for Cendrillon is generously furnished by Naxos Records.
© 2018/19 Lyric Opera Commentaries. All rights reserved. Recording & Production services provided by Mark Travis.

Photos: Bill Cooper/Royal Opera House

Pandolfe, a country gentleman, has married Mme. de la Haltière, an imperious countess. She and her daughters, Noémie and Dorothée, bully Pandolfe’s daughter from his first marriage, Lucette (known as Cendrillon). Pandolfe loves Cendrillon but is too frightened of his wife to help her.

The home of Pandolfe and his family
The household is preparing for a ball to be given at the court that evening. Pandolfe bemoans his lot, married to a nagging wife who ill-treats his daughter. Mme. de la Haltière instructs her two daughters on how to behave at the ball. She refuses to let Cendrillon go to the ball, or to let her father say goodbye to her.

After her family has left, she dreams about the ball and falls asleep. Cendrillon’s fairy godmother enters and conjures up a coach, horses, a stunning gown, and glass slippers for Cendrillon. She tells Cendrillon that she can go to the ball, but must leave before midnight. The glass slippers will prevent Cendrillon’s family from recognizing her.

The royal palace
The ball is in full swing, but Prince Charming is in a melancholy mood. The king orders his son to find a wife, and several princesses dance for the prince. An unknown beauty (Cendrillon) enters the room to general surprise. e whole court (except Mme. de la Haltière and her daughters) are charmed by the stranger, and the prince immediately falls in love with her. Left alone with Cendrillon, he tells her of his feelings. Cendrillon is equally taken with the prince, but at the first stroke of midnight she hurries away, remembering the fairy godmother’s words.

Scene 1: The home of Pandolfe and his family
Cendrillon has returned home, mourning the loss of Prince Charming. She remembers her frightening journey from the royal palace, and how she lost one of her glass slippers as she left the ball. Mme. de la Haltière and her daughters enter, abusing Pandolfe. Mme. de la Haltière then describes to Cendrillon the “unknown stranger” who appeared at the king’s ball, telling her that the prince spoke contemptuously of the girl, and that the court regarded her with disdain. When Pandolfe tells his wife to be quiet, she turns on him again. Pandolfe has finally had enough, and sends Mme. de la Haltière, Noémie, and Dorothée out of the room. He suggests to Cendrillon that they leave the town and return together to his country estate. Cendrillon agrees, and Pandolfe goes to prepare for their journey. Alone, Cendrillon decides that she is too sad to continue living. She says farewell to her home, remembers her mother fondly and leaves, determined to go to the forest and die there.

Scene 2: The enchanted forest
Spirits are dancing in the forest. Prince Charming and Cendrillon
enter, looking for each other. ey pray to the fairy godmother to ease
their pain. Hearing each other’s voices, they reaffirm their love, and
Cendrillon tells Prince Charming her true name, Lucette. e fairy godmother allows the pair to see each other. They embrace, and fall into an enchanted sleep.

Scene 1: The home of Pandolfe and his family
Pandolfe found Cendrillon in the forest, very ill, and has been caring for her at home. She is now recovering. Pandolfe tells her that she has been talking during her illness of her adventures at the ball and of Prince Charming. Cendrillon begins to believe that the whole episode was a dream. Trying to be brave, she greets the spring with her father. Mme. de la Haltière, Noémie, and Dorothée enter excitedly. The king has summoned princesses from all over the land in the hope that one of them is the unknown beauty the prince met at the ball. Mme. de la Haltière is sure that the prince must mean one of her daughters and is determined to go to the palace. A herald announces that the prince is insisting that all the women visiting the court must try on the glass slipper that the “unknown beauty” left behind at the ball; only the correct girl will be able to wear it. Cendrillon decides to go to the palace.

Scene 2: The royal palace
Prince Charming is desperately searching for his “unknown beauty’ among the princesses summoned to the palace. He is almost on the point of death when Cendrillon and the fairy godmother arrive. The prince immediately recognizes Cendrillon and the pair declare their love to the court. Pandolfe and the rest of Cendrillon’s family enter, and everyone rejoices and hails Cendrillon as their future queen.

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