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on 24 January 2013
I am a confirmed Massanet fan, I love the way his orchestra rather than leading, or even supporting his singers reflects their moods. This is as good as any.
The casting, well I was also influenced in the purchase by Joyce Di Donato, she has a full rounded range, never gets a metallic edge to her high notes which can jar, she is close to my idea of perfection.
The casting of Alice Coote as the prince is a gem, Alice makes for a lovely chap, and is more credible than some trouser role mazzos that I heard.
The bonuses started to flow, I have not heard of Eglise Gutierrez, but I shall listen and look out for her again, a well rounded soprano, and I do mean in voice, she could be my fairy godmother any time. I had not heard of Ewa Podles either, she is magnificent in voice and presence and hams her way through the role with just the right degree of humour. The two stepsisters play up delightfully, with fine voices, which are not heavily excercised. Other singing minor roles are as good as one would expect.
You may have noticed that I have sidestepped Jean-Phillipe Lafont, whilst I find his characerisation absolutely fine, his wavering voice is not quite to my liking, but I can get by with it.
The staging is modern and unrealistic, with inscribed screens, which I was not distracted enough to translate, characters and props pop out from doors in them, and it suprisingly works very well.
Costumes are exotic for the posh characters, and suitably drab for the servants, the fashion designers had a field day with outlandish designs, very amusing.
I think that I have gushed enough about the production, on disc one there are some cast interviews, oh, and the leaflet is sparce on information, other than casting.
You can find out who the radio mike engineer is, amongst other technicians and backroom boys and girls.
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This 2011 Royal Opera House production of Cendrillon is of the best. However, for several reasons, that doesn't mean than every viewer will like it and that's probably, in the main, due to Massenet's slant on this most popular of all fairy tales, of which there are several versions from different parts of Europe. One variant is the status and attitude of Cinderella's father, who is sometimes portrayed as her father wed a second time, sometimes as her step father who is sometimes also her uncle and sometimes not. In all these versions the step mother always has two not very good looking daughters who she favours above all else and relegates Cinderella to a household servant who spends a deal of time seeing to the fires and cleaning out the cinders amongst which she sleeps. Hence her name: Cinderella.

In this production the role of Cinderella (Cendrillon) is portrayed by larger than life dominant personality Joyce DiDonato. The other dominant personality in the show is Madame de la Haltiere brilliantly played and sung by Ewa Podles. The two ugly sisters don't much to do in this version of the story, except just to look silly. Pendolfe the hen-pecked father, played by Jean-Philippe Lafont, comes across as comes across as a truly henpecked, spineless character caught between the poerful charcters of his domineering wife and self-assertive daughter Cendrillon of whom one wonders how such a powerful personality could possibly have allowed herself to be dominated by the two ugly sisters for so long. Prince Charmant, a trouser role well played by Alice Coote, is yet another weak character waiting to be picked off by the powerful Cendrillon, if the equally powerful stepmother Madame de la Holtiere.

There are actually three powerful characters in this version of the Cinderella, all female: Cendrillon, Madame de la Haltiere and the Fairey Godmother played and sung by Eglise Gutierrez, who surely has to be the most tartish fairy godmother ever. There's an episode in Act 3 when she gets dangerously close to performing a striptease, something quite in keeping with this riotous version of the Cinderella story. I found that the best way to truly appreciate and enjoy this production is to concentrate on these three characters and allow everything else to revolve around them. Of course, we cannot know if Massenet intended it all to be seen like this, but it certainly makes for enjoyable viewing.

The orchestration is excellent as are the support cast such as those representing the four horses pulling the coach, who were dressed as humans with horse heads. They were prancing and tossing their heads just like real horses and they were an absolute delight. It's inspiring little touches such as this throughout the work that makes this production special. For instance there's a delightful episode right at the beginning in which the servants are bustling around warning of the severity of the step-mother and so on. Then, near the end, the queueing up to try on the shoe episode is delightfully choreographed.

All told this is a delightful romp led by three powerful female characters: domineering stepmother, sexy fairy godmother and powerful Cendrillon (Cinderella). The rest of the cast are all playing second fiddle to their tune. This is certainly Cinderella with a difference and a very worthwhile one at that.
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on 20 November 2014
fabulous staging of a rare opera which makes it more and more likely that Massenet goes into my favourite top 5 composers. The music for the fairy godmother is stunning and the production charming and very very funny
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on 2 August 2012
Beautifully sung by artists I have admired for some time. However, the work is a piece of fluff, which may account for its not having been heard in a long time.
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on 2 August 2014
great fun, splendid production, unique recording and very intelligently directed....
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on 26 June 2012
Outstanding production, excellent cast - a joy to watch. I had seen this opera at ROH and the DVD is a faithful reproduction of the performance and production. Congratulations to Laurent Pelly, Laura Scozzi, Eglise Gutierrrez, Alice Coote and Joyce Didonato. Please, please - bring more opera on DVD to treasure them at home and be able to watch them again and again.
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on 13 November 2014
Great DVD of this excellent production.
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on 27 June 2012
This is a nice performance of a rare opera. Brussels mounted the same production end of 2011 with a better cast and with a better conductor, who assured that their performance was much more sparkling as the version from London that is on this DVD. The Brussels performance was filmed and was streamed on the website of La Monnaie. Hopefully this will get a blu-ray release also.

The technical quality of this Virgin Classics DVD is not great. Still puzzles me why EMI keeps releasing their production just on DVD and not on the far superior medium of blu-ray. The master is not the problem in this case, as cinema showings and HD broadcasts have proven. A missed opportunity.

Let's hope that the Brussels version will be released on blu-ray!
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on 29 April 2016
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