• Opera Review: ‘Cinderella’ is funnier when sung
    By Jim Lowe
     | June 22,2014
    Photo by Alan Hicks

    Cinderella (Megan Marino), kneels next to her cleaning pail as she is chastised by her stepsisters and stepfather (from left, Chelsea Morris, Caitlin Mathes and Matthew Lau), who are on their way to the prince’s ball.

    It shocked even me.

    With the unveiling of Aldoro, the “fairy godfather” in the Green Mountain Opera Festival production of “La Cenerentola,” jaws dropped — and raucous laughter ensued.

    That’s pretty much how it was throughout Gioachino Rossini’s version of the Cinderella story Friday at the Barre Opera House. (The final performance is at 3 p.m. today.)

    For “La Cenerentola” is one of the funniest operas in the repertoire. It’s not the quite the version you saw by Walt Disney, as there’s a wicked stepfather instead of stepmother, the aforementioned fairy godfather, and no glass slipper. But there is a poor beautiful girl abused by her wicked stepsisters, and a charming prince to rescue her. Will a diamond bracelet do?

    The Green Mountain Opera Festival version, comically staged by Jeffrey Buchman, and choreographed by Rosa Mércedes, was set at the diner of Don Magnifico, the wicked stepfather. Cinderella — Angelina in the opera — is forced not only to wait on customers but her nasty stepsisters as well. And, of course, everyone lives happily ever after.

    This comedy is set to some of Rossini’s most effervescent and well-crafted music. Here, the excellent 29-piece professional orchestra was ably, if not always sensitively, conducted by Joseph Mechavich. The production mixed music and comedy for an evening of beautiful entertainment.

    It was well sung and acted too. Although it took her a bit to “blossom,” Megan Marino delivered Cinderella’s warmth as well as her florid bel canto runs with musical and comic flair.

    Norman Shankle was a heroic Don Ramiro, the prince, with his beautiful lyrical tenor voice. Unfortunately, the prince is expected to be earnest throughout.

    Baritone Jonathan Beyer was not only a witty comic actor as Dandini, the prince’s valet and a Leperello-like character, he was a witty singer to boot. Baritone Colin Ramsey sang beautifully as the aforementioned — and wickedly indescribable — “fairy godfather.”

    Perhaps the best comic performance of all was by baritone Matthew Lau as the seedy stepfather, whose witty singing and acting had the audience in stitches. He was well supported by Chelsea Morris and Caitlin Mathes as the stepsisters.

    The supporting characters, or chorus, were made up of the excellent singers of the Emerging Artist Program.

    This semi-staged version had the action in front of the orchestra, which performed from the back of the stage. Excellent original costumes by Kevin McCluskey illustrated the comedy, with effectively dramatic lighting by Darren Levin. The staging delivered the story effectively.

    Green Mountain Opera’s “La Centerentola” was about as funny as opera gets — and beautifully sung as well.

    Green Mountain Opera

    The Green Mountain Opera Festival will present the final performance of Rossini’s “La Cenerentola (Cinderella),” semi-staged with orchestra, sung in the original Italian with English surtitles, at 3 p.m. today (June 22) the Barre Opera House. Tickets are $70-$25; call 476-8188, or go online to www.barreoperahouse.org.

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