Massenet’s Cendrillon is an interesting take on the Cinderella story. There are a lot of references in the libretto, especially in acts 3 and 4, to suggest that it’s all really a dream. So maybe it’s not unreasonable for Barbara Mundel and Olga Motta in their 2017 Freiburg production to riff of that and give us elements that don’t, at first blush, make sense. Dreams are like that. It would also explain why, in many scenes, Lucette seems to be more of a spectator than a participant.
So in Act 1, Pandolfo appears to be a circus knife thrower with Lucette/Cendrillon as his sidekick. And there are other dream like elements. The step-mother and the sisters are accompanied by a small elephant and there are clowns everywhere. Similarly in the ball scene Lucette is at the edge of the stage and it’s her dress, descending from the fly loft, that’s the centre of attention. There are many touches like this. There’s also extensive use of a rotating set so the sense of disorientation is highlighted. I think it works and it’s certainly not dull.
There is some very decent singing too. Generally I think It’s better than one might expect from a second tier German house. The star is probably Katharina Melnikova as La Fée. Her coloratura is spot on and she has great presence. Kim Lillian Strebel is also very decent in the title role and they have found a genuine contralto in Anja Jung to sing the step mother. There really aren’t any serious weaknesses and the chorus and orchestra also sound suitably idiomatic. Fabrice Bollon conducts with a real sense of style.
Technically this is a good standard Blu-ray release with a solid DTS-HD-MA soundtrack (the stereo is also good) and excellent picture quality. Tiziano Mancini’s video direction is also fair to the production. There are no extras on the disk but there’s a decent essay in the booklet along with synopsis and track listing. Subtitle options are English, French, german, Japanese and Korean.
There aren’t, oddly perhaps, too many video recordings of Massenet’s Cendrillon and this is the only one available on Blu-ray at time of writing. It’s worth a look.
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