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CENDRILLON, AN OPERA BASED ON A WELL LOVED FAIRY TALE
If you remember the story of Cinderella from your childhood, you will enjoy the opera version known as Cendrillon The music of this opera was composed by Jules Massenet and his score is witty, with love themes and overtones of Wagner. Massenet set his music to the French words of Henri Cain. Since its opening performance in 1899, the opera has remained popular, and is staged somewhere in the world most years.
There can be few people unfamiliar with this story. A young girl loses her mother and her father remarries. Cinderella or Cendrillon is then confined to the kitchen by her 'wicked stepmother' and has to act as a servant to her 'ugly' stepsisters. With the help of a 'fairy godmother' Cinderella is able to attend a ball where she falls in love with the Prince. He eventually tracks her down through her glass shoe and they live happily ever after.
In the opening act we see the kitchen area of Madame de la Haltiere's house, where servants are busy preparing for a ball and her husband, Pandolfe, laments leaving his quiet country house to marry her. He feels sorry for his loving daughter Lucette or Cendrillon. The family eventually leave for the ball and Cinderella enters singing of her wish to attend also. She falls asleep in front of the fire and then her fairy godmother weaves a magic transformation, dressing her magnificently for the dance. She warns the girl that if she does not leave by midnight her glass slippers will not protect her from recognition.
A melancholy and lonely Prince is in the midst of the ball. The king is eager for his son to marry and introduces him to eligible princesses. The Prince, however, is enchanted by the beautiful and mysterious Cinderella when she arrives. It is love at first sight but as the clock strikes midnight she runs off, leaving the Prince to lament her departure in song.
When the family arrive home, Cendrillon hears them talking about the Prince and insisting that he will reject the mysterious princess.
Cinderella is unhappy and her father promises her tenderly that they will return to live in the country. But, she does not want to cause her father any more pain so she flees into the forest. The Prince is also wandering alone and the fairies draw them together. They sing of their love and fall asleep in each other's arms.
The final act opens several months later when Cinderella awakes from a long sleep. She remembers meeting the Prince but her father convinces her it was a dream. Madame de la Haltiere arrives with the exciting news that many princesses are gathering at the palace to try on the glass slipper. The Prince is searching for his princess and Cinderella realises that her dream was true. At the palace the girl and the Prince immediately recognise each other and are reunited to the joy of all.
Lucette / Cinderella: step-daughter treated unkindly who meets and falls in love with the Prince.
Madame de la Haltiere: wicked stepmother.
Le Prince Charmant: the Prince.
Noemie: one of the ugly stepsisters.
Dorothee: the other ugly stepsister.
Pandolfo: Cinderella's father.
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