The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music continues its Mainstage Series with Jules Massenet’s classic fairytale opera, Cendrillon (Cinderella) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17 in Corbett Auditorium.
Directed by Robin Guarino, the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair in Opera, this charming story takes place on the set of a movie where more than just Hollywood magic is in play. In addition to the familiar love story and characters of the original fairytale, CCM’s production includes an added dream sequence, which blurs the lines between dreams and reality.
Jules Massenet’s enchanting musical score shines under the direction of Mark Gibson, Director of Orchestral Studies at CCM. Graduate student Charlotte Kies had the pleasure of speaking with Professor Gibson about the spellbinding music that brings this opera to life.
Have you conducted Massenet’s Cendrillon before? How is it different from the classic fairytale?
No, this is my first Cendrillon. I’m so excited! The basic shape of the Cinderella story remains the same in Massenet’s opera, but what sets it apart is the exquisitely beautiful music shared by Cendrillon and Prince Charming, as well as the duets between Cendrillon and Pandolfe, her father.
Have you made any changes to Massenet’s original music that the audience might like to know about?
In order to accommodate the concept of the production as envisioned by the director, Robin Guarino, we have made appropriate cuts to move the action forward, but the music is all Massenet and all quite lovely.
This opera features a handful of offstage musicians. How is their role different from that of the pit orchestra?
Massenet wrote some magical effects for instrumental ensembles performed outside the pit at several moments in the opera. In Act Two, there is a delightful trio of flute, viola and harp that represents an onstage divertissement during the ball. In Act Three, harp, celesta and organ join an offstage chorus to create a splendid effect in support of the fairy godmother’s supernatural presence. Trumpets and drums introduce the final scene of Act Four with a brilliant D-major fanfare when Cendrillon and the Prince are reunited.
Robin Guarino named Cendrillon as one of your personal favorite operas. What are some of the reasons that you love this particular opera?
The music is so wonderful! Stylistically, it moves between neoclassical and rococo forms and lush romantic duets. The story is charming and vocally gratifying. I just find it irresistible.
What are some of the challenges that the orchestra students face in learning and performing this opera?
As in most romantic operas, the orchestra must be flexible in terms of tempo and rubato in order to accommodate the singers. There is also the matter of French style that demands beauty of sound and delicacy of timbre.
One of your students, Yael Front, will conduct a matinee performance of Cendrillon. What kind of challenges do conducting students face when working on a piece of this magnitude, and what are a few of the things you expect them to learn or take away from this production?
First, as always, there is knowing and understanding the text, the design of the story and its dramatic arc. Second, there is mastering the style and sound of Massenet’s orchestration. Finally, there is the pliancy of gesture needed to shape phrases and accommodate the singer’s vocalism. All in all, quite a series of challenges, and Yael Front, a brilliant young conductor from Israel, has proven more than up to them.
Do you have anything else you’d like our readers to know about the music in this production?
Come, enjoy, laugh, cry, rediscover the wonder of theatre, fall in love again with theatre through the music of Massenet’s Cendrillon.
CCM presents Cendrillon on Thursday, Nov. 17 through Sunday, Nov. 20 in Corbett Auditorium. Find more information on the production in the program below:
8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17
8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19
2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20
Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati
Tickets to Cendrillon are $31-35 for general admission, $22-25 for non-UC students and $18-21 for UC students with a valid ID. Customizable subscription packages are also available.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice.
Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.
For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors.
For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.
CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation
Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s
Opera Department Sponsor Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Rosenthal
Opera Production Sponsor: Genevieve Smith
Story by CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies