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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tender and magical, 12 July 2011
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Massenet: Cendrillon (Audio CD)
This is a delightful recording of one of Massenet's biggest hits. It owes its quality to the exceptional tenderness of Frederica Von Stade's portrayal of Cendrillon and the slickness of ensemble; it has the right combination of pathos and sparkling insouciance needed to bring off this operatic pantomime. At the helm, the experienced Julius Rudel treats the score with affection and respect, securing lovely playing from the Philharmonia; there is pace and drive when needed but he relaxes into Cendrillon's sad, solo arias to elicit maximum sweetness from the music.

Von Stade is vocally in finest estate: her pianissimi are exquisite, top notes are floated - she even touches on a high D - and she brings her special gift of plangency to bear upon a role made for her voice. The bug in the butter is Gedda's Prince Charming; he's not exactly a disaster but already by this stage of his career, when he was 53, his tenor is bleaty and unsteady and has lost tonal centre in the middle of the voice; one can only imagine what a younger-voiced singer might have done to make the prince more seductive. Still their duets at the ball with its haunting refrain and at the ecstatic conclusion of Act 3 go very nicely and some may tolerate him better than do I; I have never been much of a fan of his sound. Ruth Welting, Von Stade's regular recital partner, is absolutely enchanting as the Fairy Godmother, despatching her exacting coloratura with ease. The fairy scenes are charming, with the chorus set well back to create a suitably ethereal ambience.

It is a pity that when Sony issues classic performances such as this in bargain sets the inevitable casualty is libretto, as with so much quickfire exchange in French between the henpecked Pandolfe and his gruesome family you really need to be able to follow the dialogue, especially as we have old hands like Jules Bastin and Jane Berbié making the most of his reaction to the invective launched at him. The touch of acid in her voice and the invariably plaintive note in his accentuate the comedy, rendering him more sympathetic and her even more hateful than usual, so that we welcome the moment when the worm turns and he turns them out shrieking.

So, the slight reservation concerning Gedda's contribution notwithstanding, this is an entirely successful recording unlikely to be surpassed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful piece of magic, 15 Sep 2011
This review is from: Massenet: Cendrillon (Audio CD)
I cannot really add much to the other two reviews featured here other than to endorse them. I bought a copy of these CDs after listening to the recent Royal Opera House production. All I can say is this recording is so much better than that, even though I loved DiDonato in the ROH version ,somehow the recorded version has the edge.All the singers in ihis set are really inside their roles.My one cavil is the mistake made of casting a tenor as the Prince and not using a mezzo as Massenet intended.The ROH did not make that mistake and it paid off.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I own a recent copy...,, 15 April 2005
Brett Farrell "Offenbachinate!!!" (Cape May, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Massenet: Cendrillon (Audio CD)
I love this opera! I've long liked Massenet a great deal but this opera has helped me to fall in love with the man! This music is some of the most gratifying music ever written. It never fails to entertain you, some parts are so beautiful they crawl under skin and leave your hairs on end in awe!
I own a recent copy put out by sony that does not include a libretto but just a couple paragraphs...i bought it at for like twenty dollars where you can still get it for about the same...but i have'nt been able to stop listening to it since i bought it. It's haunting but not quite. I guess the best way to describe it is 'flowing' just like all of Massenet's music but this peice has a decidely more possitive feel to it. The only way to know how great it is, is to hear it.
To hear it is to know it is to love it.
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Massenet: Cendrillon
Massenet: Cendrillon by Various (Audio CD - 2003)
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