By Mary Beth LoScalzo
The two-act comic opera "La Cenerentola," written by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini in 1817, comes to musical life at 8 p.m. Saturday in Pittsburgh on the Benedum Center stage.
It's a once-upon-a-time story based on the fairy tale by Charles Perrault. Even though a bracelet replaces the glass slipper in Rossini's story, Cinderella, the kind-hearted maiden, still becomes a princess.
Angelina, gentle in nature, known as Cenerentola (Cinderella), is treated badly by the Baron, her stepfather, and his daughters Clorinda and Tisbe. They constantly give her orders and talk about how the prince is searching for a bride and it could be one of them.
A beggar comes to the house and the stepsisters chase him away but Cinderella treats him kindly. He is not really a beggar but Alidoro, a counselor to Prince Ramiro. The Prince hears how lovely Cinderella is and wants to meet her for himself. He changes his identity with his valet Dandini and visits the Baron's home and falls instantly in love with Cinderella.
Dandini, now disguised as the prince, escorts the sisters to the ball where the prince will choose his bride. Cinderella begs her stepfather to take her to the ball for just a little while. He says no and tells Alidoro a lie that she is dead.
As the party progresses, a beautiful stranger enters. Everyone says how she looks like the Baron Magnifoco's stepdaughter. A disguised prince is making advances toward Cinderella. She confesses that she is in love with the prince's valet, not knowing that the prince disguised himself as the valet earlier.
She gives the disguised prince a bracelet that she has a copy of so he can identify her. At the same time the baron and his daughters are forlorn to find that the man they were wooing was not the prince, but his valet disguised as the prince.
Cinderella is home busying herself through all this mistaken identity, singing of her love. The prince finds Cinderella and is very upset when he sees how poorly her family treats her. Cinderella tells the prince she forgives her family and they all live happily ever after.
The Pittsburgh Opera production of "Cenerentola" is set in the '50s.
The stage director of this production, Thor Steingraber, and his team created this version because his thinking was that Disney's animated movie of Cinderella with wholesome images of the '50s appealed to the American public.
He also thought the "Elvis-era" of the '50s, using "bouffant hairstyles, poodle skirts and extravagant color-schemes" were similar to Rossini's times.
The first '50s remake turned out to be a success at the Los Angeles Opera under General Director Peter Hemmings and continues to be performed.
The opera is sung in Italian with English subtitles projected above the stage.
Other productions of "Cenerentola" will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, 8 p.m. Nov. 22 and 2 p.m. Nov. 24.
You may call Pittsburgh Opera at (412) 281-0912, ext 216. You may also go to their Website:
Mary Beth LoScalzo is the director of educational services for The Herald.
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