March 06, 2019

Rossini’s Cinderella Gets a Whimsical New Production

There's nothing quite like Rossini to add sparkle to a season, and this fall, the melodic master's take on the timeless fairytale Cinderella gets a new-to-Chicago production that is sure to leave audiences laughing from the overture to the happily-ever-after ending.


Written when Rossini was just 25 years old on the heels of his successful The Barber of SevilleCinderella (or La Cenerentola) tells the story of Angelina, a sweet and resourceful girl who is forced into servitude by her stepfather and stepsisters — though in this comic operatic version, all three of these characters are more ridiculous than evil.

The opera returns to Lyric for the first time in a decade in a production making its Chicago premiere, filled with color and whimsy. General Director Anthony Freud first engaged the creative team to design this production when he was general director of Welsh National Opera, spearheading a coproduction with Barcelona and Geneva. Houston Grand Opera then joined the coproduction, where the work would debut — and, in a twist of fate, when Freud subsequently took the reins as general director in Houston, he brought the work to completion. "It's a witty, zany, slightly surreal production," he shares, "but in a very accessible, deeply entertaining way."

Director Joan Font has led the Spanish theater troupe El Comediants for many years, a collective formed by actors, musicians and artists who celebrate "the festive spirit of human existence" with core values of art, creativity, diversity, drama, energy, and passion. In his director's note for Houston, the acclaimed theater and opera director said, "We wanted to take a new look at the dramatic narration of the tale and to accentuate the concept of timelessness…. We all dream of escaping poverty and misery, of living full and happy lives, and it's better if love brings about or acts as a catalyst for this change."

Acclaimed tenor Lawrence Brownlee makes his Lyric Opera debut as Prince Ramiro 

The result is a vivid telling of one of the world's most universal and beloved stories, with over-the-top wigs, makeup and costumes that accentuate the playfulness of Rossini's delightful music. The popular production has been seen in Seattle, Los Angeles, and most recently at Washington National Opera with Isabel Leonard singing the title role before she'll bring it to Chicago this fall along with tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Prince Ramiro. "This dazzling production has been acclaimed worldwide for its witty characterizations, rainbow-bright sets and costumes, and rags-to-riches ending that celebrates the power of love and forgiveness," raves Broadway World. "Audiences of all ages will delight in this clever romantic comedy that features bracelets instead of glass slippers, a philosophical tutor in place of a fairy godmother, and six adorable dancing rats that serve as a makeshift Greek chorus."

Don't miss this Chicago debut of a new production of Rossini's Cinderella, from October 4-30!

Lyric Opera presentation generously made possible by Margot and Josef Lakonishok, The Nelson Cornelius Production Endowment Fund, and PowerShares QQQ.

Coproduction of Houston Grand Opera, Welsh National Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, and Grand Théâtre de Genève.

Photos: Brett Coomer (Houston Grand Opera), Bill Cooper (Welsh National Opera), Scott Suchman (Washington National Opera)