March 04, 2019
The World’s Favorite Fairytale Captivates at Lyric
Chicago has fallen in love with Cendrillon! Massenet’s version of the Cinderella story has captivated audiences and critics alike, with four-star reviews from both major newspapers. Laurent Pelly’s production is “light as air, fanciful to the core and — yes — very, very funny” (Chicago Tribune). Immeasurably enhancing the production are the conducting of Lyric music director Sir Andrew Davis (he and the orchestra produce “diaphanous enchantment,” says the Chicago Sun-Times) and the top-flight cast.
Siobhan Stagg, Lyric’s Cendrillon, achieved a true “star-is-born” moment with her Covent Garden debut as Pamina/The Magic Flute. This season her several leading roles at her home house, the venerable Deutsche Oper Berlin, will be highlighted by her first Micaëla/Carmen. As Cendrillon, the Australian soprano is “an eye-catching and dramatically lovable cinder girl in her very welcome American debut” (Chicago Sun-Times).
Lyric favorite Alice Coote is back with the company as Prince Charming. She’s triumphed in this role in the Pelly production at Covent Garden (available on DVD), Barcelona, and the Met. The Chicago Tribune called Coote’s singing of the Prince’s monologue “radiantly beautiful,” praising “the ardently yearning nature of her phrasing” which “could make even the most stone-hearted listener feel this protagonist’s pain.”
French-Canadian coloratura soprano Marie-Eve Munger (debut) sings one of French opera’s most dazzling roles, the Fairy Godmother. Chicago has now discovered what audiences at La Scala and in Paris, Munich, and Brussels have been cheering about! Playing a character intent on “conjuring the opera’s wizardry and wonder,” Marie-Eve “did just that through vocal gymnastics and saucy body movement” (Chicago Tribune).
Derek Welton (debut) made his first Bayreuth Festival appearance last summer as the evil Klingsor/Parsifal, but in Cendrillon the Australian bass-baritone shows his lighter, gentler side as the heroine’s endearing father, Pandolfe. The Chicago Sun-Times noted that “his consolation scene with Cinderella, when all seemed headed for the worst possible end for them both, was stunning in its deep expression of father-daughter love.” And Elizabeth Bishop has the audience in the palm of her hand playing bossy Mme. de la Haltière, Pandolfe’s wife and Cendrillon’s stepmother Having scored great successes with major houses across America, she’s making her Lyric debut. In her priceless portrayal “you’re hearing a lovely instrument given a sharp, comedic edge “ (Chicago Tribune).
All in all, Lyric has, according to the Chicago Tribune, “a Cendrillon that not only crystallized the quicksilver spirit of Massenet’s vision but enhanced it through a production as imaginative as the most enduring fairy tales deserve.”