December 14, 2023

Get to know: Rossini's CINDERELLA

One of the world's favorite stories — memorably adapted for opera, dance, film, and musical theater — is the fairytale of Cinderella. The most celebrated operatic version of the story is Gioachino Rossini's, first heard in 1817 (the year after his even more famous Barber of Seville). He relished bringing the endearing heroine to the stage in what he described as a dramma giocoso (humorous drama). There are many hilarious comic scenes in this opera, but the central couple — the lovers we know so well from the fairytale — express themselves, both individually and together, with touching sweetness and sincerity from start to finish.

The prince, Don Ramiro, and his valet, Dandini, have exchanged clothes so that Ramiro can determine whether a young woman can be found who will love him for himself, rather than for his royal position. Visiting the home of Cinderella's father, Don Magnifico, Ramiro meets the gentle girl and the two fall instantly in love. At the prince's ball, no one knows who a certain mysterious, gorgeously gowned lady can be. She leaves Ramiro with one of her two bracelets, saying "when you find its twin, I'll be yours." When he returns to Magnifico's home seeking shelter from a storm, Ramiro recognizes Cinderella and claims her as his bride.

This opera is full of music that sparkles like the finest champagne–but at the same time is filled also with warmth, as in Cinderella' plaintive, heartfelt "signature tune." She brings the opera to its joyous conclusion with her final aria, a stupendous test of a singer's vocal technique. Ramiro's declaration that nothing will stop him in finding Cinderella gives him a chance to pop out one high C after another, while the Dandini/Magnifico duet, a comic masterpiece, can definitely stop the show! Because this is Rossini, we have a series of exhilarating ensembles that require the ultimate in teamwork between all the artists onstage.

How thrilling it is to introduce two lavishly gifted young stars to Chicago! As Cinderella, Lyric will welcome a dazzling Russian mezzo, Vasilisa Berzhanskaya; her "prince charming" will be Jack Swanson, the gleaming-voiced Minnesota-born tenor. Each of these artists has skyrocketed to international prominence. It's also very special to have two superb baritones from two generations appearing opposite each other: Canada's Joshua Hopkins as Dandini and — celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his operatic debut — Italy's master of comic opera, Alessandro Corbelli as Magnifico.

We're excited to welcome to Lyric the remarkable Taiwanese conductor Yi-Chen Lin. Having begun her career at Pesaro's Rossini Opera Festival, she has recently debuted with the major companies of Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart, while also returning to the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Bregenz Festival.

Originally directed by the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (who also designed the adorable pop-up-style sets), this celebrated Rossini production bursts with priceless wit, but at the same time does full justice to the touching love story at the opera's heart. Experience an opera that ends happily ever after, January 21 through February 10 with Rossini's Cinderella.

JANUARY 21 - FEBRUARY 10, 2024



Rossini's fairy tale opera Cinderella follows the love story of downtrodden Cenerentola and disguised Prince Ramiro with a sparkling score and hilarious antics. This renowned production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle will feature rising stars Vasilisa Berzhanskaya and Jack Swanson alongside veteran baritone Alessandro Corbelli, under the baton of Yi-Chen Lin.

All photos: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera