Music by Jules Massenet / Libretto by Henri Cain
After the fairy tale by Charles Perrault – “Cinderella, or the little glass slipper”
Sung in French with English-French surtitles
Duration – 2.5 hours with 1 intermission
Composer Jules Massenet created his enchanting opera “Cendrillon” based on the classic French fairy tale by Charles Perrault. With this work the composer tells us a well-known story; he opens the pages of a story book and makes familiar scenes and characters spring to life in a three dimensional world. Clever dialogues and a lush and varied musical score orchestrate what we already know, but also shine a light on the innermost hopes and fears of Cinderella and her Prince Charming. Opera da Camera invites you to this opera that is sure to delight and enthrall, leaving its audience with a new soundtrack to accompany this cherished childhood story.
The residence of Mme de la Haltière
Mme de la Haltière, second wife of the courtier Pandolfe, is calling for her servants. The time has come to prepare for the ball that will take place that evening at the royal palace. Pandolfe enters and agrees with his employees that his wife is a piece of work. He asks them to nonetheless do their duties for the sake of keeping peace around the house. He longs for the time when he lived a simpler life in the countryside with his daughter Cendrillon. His daughter is much kinder than the two vain step daughters, Noémie and Dorothée, whom he acquired with his marriage. He decides that he must regain control of his house.
Mme de la Haltière enters with her two daughters. With the help of their tailors and hairdressers, the trio is being decked out in their finery for the royal ball. Meanwhile, Pandolfe has also dressed in his regalia and the four leave for the ball.
The house if finally quiet. Cendrillon enters, dreaming of also going to the ball. She must stay behind however to do her work. After a long day of cleaning she sits down at the hearth and soon she falls asleep.
The Fairy and her spirits appear and she decrees that Cendrillon should also go to the ball. With magic they set off to sewing a most magnificent dress for the poor girl. In one flash everything is ready and Cendrillon awakes. Only a single rule is given to her, that she should return home before the clock has struck midnight. To assuage her fears of being recognized at the ball, the Fairy gives Cendrillon a pair of glass slippers which will protect her identity.
At the royal court
The Prince suffers from a mysterious melancholy. The Master of Ceremonies and the Dean of the Faculty try to cheer him up, but he remains silent – he is dreaming of finding love. The King enters and tells his son that he must choose a wife from among the daughters of the nobility who will be at the ball that evening. These are welcomed during a magnificent dance suite. In the midst of the festivities, Pandolfe enters with his wife and daughters – they are finally in the presence of the King! Cendrillon enters as well and is greatly admired by all present. Pandolfe is particularly intrigued by the young girl. When the King notices his son’s interest in the mysterious visitor he orders that the ball room be cleared. Alone, Prince Charming compliments the young girl and asks for her name. She responds only that she is to be known as the “unknown one” and evades all further enquiries. The two fall in love, but at the first stroke of midnight Cendrillon escapes, leaving the Prince behind in desperation.
Scene 1 – The residence of Mme de la Haltière
Cendrillon rushes in breathless and afraid, she has lost one of the slippers. Hearing a commotion in the hallway, she goes to her room. Pandolfe, Mme de la Haltiere and the step sisters enter in a stormy discussion. Mme de la Haltiere reproaches her husband for the admiration he showed the unknown girl at the ball. Deaf to the abuse he is being given by the overbearing women, Pandolfe continues to dream of a more calm and obscure existence. Cendrillon returns to listen to what Mme de la Haltiere is saying about the ball. She is saying that this shameless intruder even had the gall to converse with the Prince. Cendrillon asks the three women what the Prince said and they respond only that they believe the intruder should be hanged. At these words, Pandolfe chases the women from the room and comforts his daughter with a promise to return to their country home in the forest where they will finally live in peace. Pandolfe leaves to prepare for their journey. Cendrillon is still troubled. She believes her stepsisters’ lies that the Prince’s love was only a passing fancy and she decides to run away as far as possible. She fleas into the dark night.
Scene 2 – The forest
The Fairy hears Cendrillon and the Prince approaching in the forest, both in distress. To conceal each from the other, the Fairy conjures up a wall of clover. The young couple approaches and Cendrillon listens as the Prince tells of his ardent love for the ravishing creature who came to the ball. Gradualle the couple realises the truth. The Prince asks for her name and Cendrillon responds with “Lucette”, promising eternal love. The Prince and Cendrillon implore the Fairy to dissolve the enchanted barrier. She hears their pleas and the two are can finally embrace. Soon a magic slumber descends on the two lovers.
Scene 1 – The residence of Mme de la Haltière
Pandolfe is keeping watch at Cendrillon’s bedside. Several months have passed since he found her , distraught, in the forest. Cendrillon awakes and Pandolfe tells her of what she said during the delirium of her sleep. She talked of the Prince, who she had never met, of a glass slipper, of an inconsolable heartache. Certainly, all of that was nothing but a dream.
Pandolfe hears his wife approaching. Mme de la Haltiere announces that the King has ordered the princesses to present themselves at the palace where the Prince would receive each one of them to try on the glass slipper. Cendrillon is beside herself with agitation as she realizes that her dream has become reality. She implores the Fairy to allow her to go to court to try on the slipper.
Scene 2 – At the royal court
The princesses are welcomed at court. The Prince is desperate for the owner of the slipper to come and reclaim it. Suddenly, the voice of the Fairy is heard and Cendrillon appears. The two lovers greet each other and declare their love. Pandolfe enters with his wife and the stepsisters. The King, his court, Pandolfe and even the insupportable Mme de la Haltière and her daughters pay homage to the future queen. They all live happily ever after.