Program booklet »La cenerentola«

Page 1



























LA CENERENTOLA OSSIA LA BONTÀ IN TRIONFO DRAMMA GIOCOSO in two acts Libretto JACOPO FERRETTI Source Cendrillon, fairy tale by CHARLES PERRAULT (1697) Agatina o La virtù premiata, dramma semiserio by FELICE ROMANI & STEFANO PAVESI (1814)


2 flutes / 2 piccolos 2 oboes / 2 clarinets 2 bassoons / 2 horns 2 trumpets / 1 trombone violin I / violin II viola / cello / double bass pianoforte (harpsichord) STAGE ORCHESTRA percussion

AUTOGRAPH Score: Accademia Filarmonica Bologna Aria “Là del cielo nell’arcano profondo”: Fond. Rossini Pesaro WORLD PREMIÈRE 25 JANUARY 1817 Teatro Valle, Rome FIRST PERFORMANCE IN VIENNA 29 AUGUST 1820 Theater an der Wien PREMIÈRE AT THE HOUSE ON THE RING 2 MAY 1881 Vienna Court Opera DURATION

2 H 45 M



SYNOPSIS ACT 1 Don Magnifico, Baron of Montefiascone, lives with his two daughters and his step-daughter in a rather dilapidated mansion. While Clorinda and Thisbe spend their day dreaming of a life of leisure, finery and dancing, Angelina (Cenerentola) must serve her half-sisters and do all the housework. One day, much to the displeasure of Thisbe and Clorinda, she sings a ballad about the king’s son, who goes in search of a bride, finds not one but three aspirants, and finally decides to marry the one who has a good heart. The song is interrupted by a knock at the front door. It is a beggar asking for food. Disgusted, Clorinda and Thisbe show him the door, but Angelina takes pity on him. She gives him bread and coffee. Her two half-sisters would like nothing better than to trounce Angelina; they are stopped only by the appearance of a group of cavaliers, bringing an invitation for Don Magnifico and his daughters from Prince Ramiro, who is looking for a bride. When the cavaliers announce that the prince himself is on his way, Clorinda and Thisbe can no longer contain themselves: they excitedly order Angelina hither and thither as they get dressed up in all their finery. The two finally end up quarrelling about which of them should be the first to give the news to their father. Clorinda and Thisbe’s argument wakes their father. He enters grumpily and tells them of a wonderful dream he has had: he himself appeared in it as a magnificent flying donkey and, enthroned on a bell tower, heard festive bells ringing. Don Magnifico interprets this dream to mean that as a grandfather, he will one day embrace a large number of royal grandchildren. Finally they manage to interrupt Don Magnifico’s torrent of words to inform him about the visit of the cavaliers and the invitation. Delighted, Don Magnifico considers the interpretation of his dream confirmed, at least roughly. Prince Don Ramiro enters disguised as a simple valet. He had been advised to play this role by his tutor, philosopher Alidoro, who had already reconnoitred the situation earlier as the beggar asking for charity. Angelina and Ramiro fall in love on the spot. When the young man asks Angelina who she actually is, he finds out that Don Magnifico is not her real father, but the Previous pages: STAGE DESIGN, ACT 1



father of her two half-sisters. Ramiro cannot understand why such a charming girl should be dressed in such tattered clothes. The prince’s cavaliers enter with the disguised Dandini, Don Ramiro’s valet, who on his orders is playing the part of the prince. With this masquerade, Ramiro hopes to be able to identify the true intentions of the individual marriage candidates. The assumed prince is greeted gushingly by Don Magnifico, Thisbe and Clorinda. With evident pleasure, Dandini gains increasing confidence in his role as the prince. From him they all learn that it was a provision of the deceased king’s will that is forcing the prince to marry as soon as possible, as he will other­ wise be disinherited. When Angelina modestly asks to be allowed to go to the palace and at least watch the dancing, she is silenced by her stepfather. Alidoro enters masquerading as a court official with the list of eligible daughters in the house. Angelina is passed off as a maid; she is disowned and declared to have died. Ramiro is outraged at the way Angelina is being treated. However, his protests are lost in the chaotic preparations for departure. Full of anticipation, they all leave for the prince’s palace. Dandini plays his role perfectly and is not sparing with his apparent tributes to the conceited Don Magnifico, appointing him keeper of the cellar of the palace. As ordered, Dandini flirts with Clorinda and Thisbe, each of whom tries to win the prince for herself. Elated at his new office, Don Magnifico decrees and dictates a long edict, forbidding wine to be diluted with water for fifteen years. In the meantime Dandini reports to his master on the vanity of Clorinda and Thisbe, who are then no longer candidates for Don Ramiro’s marriage plans. Festive music and excited calls announce the arrival of an unexpected guest: an elegant, veiled lady. She introduces herself with the statement that she disdains external glamour and intends to marry only the man who can give her a warm heart. She is then asked to lift her veil. The lady complies with the request; her beauty prompts cries of general enchantment. It is Angelina, who with the help of the all-seeing Alidoro has managed to come to the ball after all. All who know Angelina are stunned. They see the similarity, but cannot believe that this dazzling lady and poor Cinderella could be one and the same person.



ACT 2 In Don Ramiro’s palace, Don Magnifico holds a family meeting with Clorinda and Thisbe. The old man is greatly perturbed by appearance of the competitor, who on top of everything else looks so similar to his downtrodden stepdaughter. Magnifico’s bad conscience makes itself known: after all, he has squandered Cinderella’s share of the inheritance on his biological children. Faced by financial ruin, the only thing that will save him is if the prince marries one of his daughters. Ramiro listens unnoticed to a discussion between Dandini and the unknown lady, in which Angelina rejects the advances of the man she believes to be the prince. She admits that she loves another, namely the “valet.” Elated, Ramiro rushes out and proposes to her. However, Cinderella imposes one condition: she gives him a bracelet with the assignment that he must find her. She will wear an identical bracelet in her usual surroundings. He will recognise her by it. If she does not then displease him, she will be his. After these intimations, she hurries away. Ramiro immediately orders his carriage to be drawn up. Impatiently he sets off in search of his beloved, but not before he changes Dandini back into his valet. Now Magnifico must learn the bitter truth from Dandini. Filled with impotent anger, Don Magnifico sees all his honours and the financial rescue he had assumed secure all disappearing. Back home after the ball, Angelina dreams again of the king’s son who wants to choose a wife based solely on the inclinations of his heart. Her dreams are interrupted by Don Magnifico who bursts noisily and angrily in with her disappointed step-sisters. They vent all their pent up anger on poor Cinderella. A storm breaks out, and as fate – or one of Alidoro’s stratagems – will have it, an accident right in front of Don Magnifico’s mansion of all places brings the royal coach to a halt. Don Ramiro must seek shelter in the mansion. Thanks to the bracelet, the prince recognises his beloved, kept as a maid. She in turn re­ alises the true identity of the man she adores. Deliriously happy, Angelina declares her willingness to follow Don Ramiro. When the new princess enters the throne room, she is revered in grand style. Angelina asks her husband to forgive her relatives, since out of the goodness of her heart she has forgotten all her hardships.




ROSSINI IS PRECISION WITH SOUL ol Maestro, have you ever counted how many times you have conducted La cenerentola? jlc No, I don’t know the exact number but there certainly have been plenty! I ran a production in Paris under Rolf Liebermann with Teresa Berganza and Frederica von Stade singing. This was performed several times. Then there was another production in Geneva with Jennifer Larmore in the title role. So this is my third Ceneren­ tola. ol Which leads in nicely to my next question: what is it that is so special about this opera compared to other works by Rossini? jlc Probably because it’s a comedy that doesn’t just try to be amusing but has something humanistic about it. And it’s interesting to note that Rossini deliberately avoided sticking to the conventional Cinderella storyline but introduced an impoverished nobleman as stepfather in place of the evil

stepmother. This takes the opera in a different direction. As the subtitle says, “ossia La bontà in trionfo,” i.e. good will triumph. Disguised as a comedy, the opera actually deals with life. And you hear this, of course, in the music: Rossini wrote La cenerentola immediately after Otello and before Armida, i.e. between two tragedies. Take the D minor that marks the death of Otello and turns up again in Cenerentola’s first aria. So this opera is not a straightforward buffo comedy like Il barbiere di Siviglia but has more depth. ol To what extent do you tinker with the score in this production? Are there any cuts? jlc No, absolutely not, except for a small one in one of the recitatives. La cenerentola does not need any changes or any cuts! This just shows what a masterpiece this opera is! ol Are you going to be including the aria added by Rossini’s fellow-composer Luca Agolini?



jlc No, we’ll be leaving that out. It’s an aria by Clorinda and you know straightaway that it’s not by Rossini. And what’s more: if you insert it, it holds up the plot. We know how this inserted aria came about: the singer playing Clorinda insisted on it and Rossini let himself be browbeaten. So he simply ordered Agolini to write it. Typical Rossini, incidentally! ol Your repertoire includes a lot of Rossini’s works. Do you see yourself as helping to maintain a tradition of interpreting his music? jlc I think we also started to get to grips with this repertoire in the 1960s and have been on a long journey since then. This is because there were hardly any accurate Rossini scores back then, only reworkings from the 19th century. I have even lived through the Barbiere accompanied by trombones and drums! As a result of work by all kinds of institutions determined to find what Rossini wanted from reliable sources, the situation is now completely different. There are now scores that are not only academically correct but reproduce the original spirit of the composer. I have lived through this time of getting closer to the truth, so can’t say I come from a long line of tradition: there was indeed such a tradition but it was one of forgeries and reworkings. ol Is it possible to define the par­ ticular challenges for a conductor in La cenerentola? jlc The ensembles! Although there are arias, La cenerentola is basically an opera of ensembles, i.e. with lots of duets, trios, quartets and so on through to the grand finales. So this is an opera where seven singers spend most of the time singing with each other. This

means that the conductor is not just conducting arias but also has to do a lot of “organising.” ol To what extent do you think this work has changed since it was first performed in Paris? jlc It makes a difference if you conduct such a piece as a young man or in your seventies. You find there is a certain amount of melancholy in the opera which you perhaps didn’t notice before. And this feeling of melancholy adds a new colour to the way the work is interpreted. My impression is that I find the humanistic side to this opera more important than I did before. ol And did aspects of your interpretation change while the rehearsals for this new production were still going on? jlc That generally happens as a matter of course during rehearsals – and this is simply logical: as a conductor you have to deal with the production but at the same time with the stage set. This will determine, for instance, whether or not a number of tempi can be fitted in or whether they have to be adapted. I am very happy this time with the stage set because it consists of a finite space – and even has a ceiling – and so it is possible to sing quietly and rapidly but the audience can hear and understand everything. Thanks to this stage set, it is possible to present a wide range of colours and different forms of expression. ol Do you conduct Rossini technically in a “different” way to the way you conduct other com­ posers? jlc Not from a purely technical point of view. But obviously the style is different. And this different style affects your technique: Rossini requires particular



precision and a degree of lightness. No grand gestures. But this is dictated by the music and comes virtually automatically. ol You were there for the stage rehearsals… jlc … because I always find that to be essential. Especially with a musical comedy where tiny little details really matter. I couldn’t possibly direct a performance of La cenerentola without knowing precisely how the production was being staged.

ol Rhythm is an essential element with Rossini. Does that also apply to La cenerentola? jlc Absolutely. Rossini is like a Swiss watch but with an Italian beat. In other words: precision with soul. All of the humour and tension come from the rhythm and, if you look at the musical notes, you’ll see that the composer noted everything down very precisely.




SAN SOGNO GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION AND GENERAL INFORMATION The Duchy of San Sogno lies in an idyllic location between San Remo and Mentone. With its 12 square kilometres and 568 inhabitants, it is both the smallest country in Europe and the smallest duchy in the world. The whole country is on one side of the Maritime Alps and has borders with France and Italy. The official language is Italian. The national flag demonstrates the friendly nature of the cultural ties with its large neighbour. It has the same three colours – red, white and green – and bears San Sogno’s coat of arms, the lobster and the sickle. Its national anthem, “Mi par d’essere sognando” was composed by one of its citizens, the great composer Gioachino Rossini. San Sogno City with its 500 inhabitants is the Duchy’s capital city and the seat of its government although the government’s business is run from San Sogno/Villaggio between the months of May and September. Villaggio clings tightly to the slopes of an active volcano, Mount Strepito. Ramiro XXI (1702-1801) of the ruling Gramildi family built its summer palace, Castello Gioia, not far outside the village. Since the middle of the last century it has housed an exquisite col-

lection of classic cars, a hobby of the current ruler, Ramiro XXV (b. 1930). Other sights include the cathedral in San Sogno City and Palazzo Montefiascone in Villaggio, which was lovingly restored in 1961.

HISTORY AND POLITICS “Tutto cangia – a poco a poco.” These words of Ramiro XXII were addressed to the Congress of Vienna and are typically to be found on the walls of all government offices and school classrooms in San Sogno. One might even say that they have become an expression of the mentality and view on life for the Sansognesi. It follows that the country has hardly had any influence on Europe’s history. Ramiro XXIV (18901960), however, was considered to be particularly autocratic and intolerant. Wine production in San Sogno ceased under his rule. Smoking in San Sogno was also made a criminal offence. At the same time he raised the tax rates and suspended the country’s constitution. During his reign he maintained a miniature army which he commanded with an iron fist. When he died, his son, Ramiro XXV, succeeded him and one of the new ruler’s first acts was to disband the army. He appointed as Prime Minister



his tutor, Ali Doro, who was considered to be a liberal. Ali Doro had a Turkish mother and a father who came from Rome. It is to him that we owe thanks for the existence of the casino that is still there and the reestablishment of citizens’ rights. Ramiro XXV is happily married to Angelina di Montefiascone, stepdaughter of the country’s only nobleman, Magnifico Baron di Montefiascone (Minister of Viniculture). They have eleven children. The sisters of the haughty Duchess, Clorinda di Montefiascone and Thisbe di Montefiascone, once belonged to the international jet set. Their clothing designs are the reason for San Sogno’s reputation as the world’s capital of fashion. Ramiro XXI was also World Formula One Champion in 1958, 1959 and 1960 but ended his successful motor racing career in 1961 out of concern for his family.

SAN SOGNO’S ECONOMY, RESIDENTS AND TOURISM Anyone travelling to San Sogno will have the impression that time has stood still there. Villaggio in particular has managed to keep its original charm. Even today, it still only allows no more than six visitors to swim here in the summer. The Duchy still mainly lives on its agriculture and catching lobsters although the income provided by the casino means that San Sogno’s residents do not have to pay any tax. Villaggio also has a mayor (the office is passed on down a family line in San Sogno), a priest, an undertaker, a village prostitute, an emigrée Russian princess, four playboys, a golfer (although San Sogno does not – yet – have a golf course, the teeing ground

on the cliffs above the Aragosta Sea is a hot tip), an ice cream salesman and his wife who doubles as lifeguard on the beach and at the swimming pool. There are also two carabinieri and a chef who owns the one and only restaurant, which has received many awards. Finally there is a baker, four car mechanics, two racing drivers who look after the famous collection of cars, four secretaries who assist Ramiro XXV with his affairs of state, as well as a gardener and countless children. It is interesting to note that many of the women have distinctly masculine features.

INSTITUTIONS Villaggio’s choir and orchestra enjoy an international reputation. All of the village’s residents are members and have participated in festivals such as the ones at San Remo and San Lorenzo di Mare. In 2013 it will even play at a performance of La cenerentola at the Vienna State Opera under the baton of Jésus López-Cobos. The Monte Strepito Rally is held every year in San Sogno. San Sogno has three public telephones.

FAMOUS SANSOGNESI The Sansognese pop star Dandini reached number one in the Italian charts with his hit, “Come un’ape.” Carlo Capello: he invented the straw hat in 1905. Gianni Nivea: a chemist in San Sogno City who invented sunscreen in 1953. The composer, Gioachino Rossini, who was born in San Sogno in 1792.



FOOD SPECIALITIES Pasta all’astice and spaghetti alle vongole are San Sogno’s national dishes. There has also been a national long drink since 1960. It is called the “Dandini Speciale” and consists of thirteen types of liqueur, chocolate pudding, white wine, red wine, petits fours – and a shot of petrol.

CURRENCY San Sogno has held fast to the Lira.

CUSTOMS The ruler’s consort, Angelina Gramildi, is considered to be a woman of strict morals. Poly­ gamy, adulterous relationships and holding concubines are criminal offences in San Sogno. Schoolchildren in San Sogno wear uniforms, and chewing gum on school grounds results in detention. Divorce is not possible in San Sogno. Only ladies older than 50 are allowed to wear make-up. Angelina Gramildi is known as the “eminence blonde” and is considered to be the actual ruler of San Sogno.




ABOUT CENEREN-­ TOLA’S STAGE For me, Rossini’s La cenerentola is a fairy tale that has more in common with Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter than with Grimms’ fairy tales. The rooms in the impoverished world of Don Magnifico should be as different as possible from Prince Ramiro’s palace. For this reason, in the house we see a very narrow hallway with five cupboards. This shabby hallway with the remains of a picture gallery could perhaps run along the front of the house’s formerly splendid ballroom. All the rooms in the property have become completely uninhabitable. That is why the head of the household sleeps in a sleeping bag in one of the cupboards; there is also a kind of provisional kitchen, and as if by magic a washstand suddenly appears in place of the improvised sleeping area. And the famous storm? The water unexpectedly floods into the cupboards. The extremely narrow room with its faded colours – even the chair covers have lost their colour – is in vivid contrast to the prince’s world. Ramiro has a hobby: he collects antique cars and houses his beautiful cars LAWRENCE BROWNLEE as DON RAMIRO

in one of the halls in his palace. Roll-up doors such as one finds in garages have been installed in the building, which dates back to the end of the 19th century, and fluorescent lamps illuminate his collection. Ramiro’s father formerly used the first floor as the office for his official duties. The flags of San Sogno and his portrait pretentiously decorate the desk. In contrast to Magnifico’s colour­ less accommodation, the palace is painted in an Italianate warm shade of yellow. The basic character of the rooms is at first glance realistic, just as Rossini’s opera begins with apparently real situations and then quickly becomes caught up in a whirlpool of aberration, passions and rapid tempi. The realistic level is repeatedly abandoned in favour of the music, offering a reason to expand into the subtle fireworks of the fantastic ensembles. For this reason, the scenery should by no means have only a realistic or naturalistic narrative style. The rooms have something of trompe l’œil and confusion about them.



ABOUT CENEREN-­ TOLA’S COSTUMES How do we begin contemplating the “concept” for a “comic opera” if we do not wish to resort to drastic updating inspired by the wonderful merriment of Rossini’s music – notwithstanding the fact that the constellation of “cruel father – mistreated daughter” (if we reduce the Cinderella story to these basic elements) can easily be found in the news with far more radical cruelty? In this process of deliberation, the music takes a much higher priority than it does in operas with a serious libretto, since a “fairy tale” is not a “realistic” story, the characters are not necessarily fully developed, and the events are often “wonder”-fully unreal. When we look at the costume history of the opera, narrative styles have evolved that, whether paraphrasing commedia dell’arte characters or exaggerating, caricaturing or creating apparent fantasy, are used in countless variations. They do not tell any particular part of the story, are without substance, or smother any message with arbitrariness. This kind of typical

“opera costume” is an enemy stereotype that I wanted at all costs to avoid. Another initial consideration, that of the period in which to locate the “retelling” of a work (since we are now accustomed to choosing any epoch that seems reasonable to us), brings us back to the same consideration: unless the characters are anchored in reality, this opera does not seem portrayable to me. Presenting Cenerentola as a poor kitchen maid wearing a historical long patched dress with a laced bodice seems to me a cliché of operatic “sugarcoating” that does little to touch me. In my mind, images of Anna Magnani type hairstyles and tunic dresses filtered into the story – a compliment to “italianità”; early Visconti and Fellini films from the early 1950s and then even the easygoing village atmosphere from Anthony Minghella’s film The Talented Mr. Ripley which focuses not on social hardship but on sun and Vespa-driving joie de vivre. All these gave me a framework in which this story could take place.



With realistic characters in a specific, narrative design style that in this context I would call “drama” costumes, as that brings us somewhat closer to reality. Working with straight theatre in this fashion seemed to me more likely to result in justice being done to the music of the opera, because with this description of real characters an overall atmosphere, a “world” evolves in which we find ourselves, a “costume image” appears that in general is more important to me than the individual “dresses.” So creating the inhabitants of the village of San Sogno was one of the most enjoyable “costume conferences” I had with Sven-Eric Bechtolf and Rolf Glittenberg, albeit also the most work, since in no time at all we had drawn up a population to fill a full-fledged county town. It was then very satisfying hard work to draw up a list of the dramatis personae for costuming and to give the

popular Rossini men’s chorus characteristic a slight list in order not to suppress a small female contingent. The “subjectivity” that is always very important to me in my work allowed me a few “highs” derived from quoting from images that are no longer copyrighted, such as men with Fellini’s hairnets or bridesmaids at the wedding of Grace Kelly or personal things such as the sky blue trousers of the Iceman. My desire to delve deeper into a few favourite passages rather than tackle just the overall mood of the music was seldom satisfied. Unfortunately no costumes could be created for the few bars with which the storm music ends – in completely peaceful mollification, as if Rossini wanted to resolve “nodo avviluppato” and “vertice del lor’cervello” – the confused incomprehension in the limited minds of the characters. It is wonderful to have ears!




HER SINGING BRIMS OVER WITH PEARLS Rossini signed the contract for the composition of a new opera on the day of his 24th birthday, 29 February 1816. Barely a year later the opera in question – La cenerentola – was premièred at the Teatro Valle in Rome. As with his Barbiere di Siviglia several months earlier, the opera was not considered a success at the première, but gradually became popular, a status it then maintained. To this day, this opera buffa based on the well-known Cinderella fairy tale delights audiences with its perfect balance between musical genre painting, the characters, perfect cantilenas, a wealth of melodies, memorable ensembles and comic situations. In Rossini and Ferretti’s version of the story, the action focuses on Angelina, who is being unjustly kept as a maid, around whom a comedy unfolds with several role reversals. The main, well-known elements of the story remain unchanged – prince marries demeaned outsider and evil stepsisters come away empty-handed. Unlike the traditional versions of the fairy tale (especially as told by Charles Perrault), in the story for Rossini’s opera there is nothing magical. In this connection, librettist Jacopo Ferretti wrote in his

foreword that this omission of all magic was due to staging limitations at the Teatro Valle theatre. In truth, Rossini detested this kind of artifice in libretti, and so Cenerento­ la had to manage without the famous pumpkin transformed into a carriage and drawn by mice, which did not in the least bother the Roman audience at the première. What was disappointing for some audience members – such as for Théophile Gautier at a performance in Paris – was the fact that Ferretti omitted the well-known shoe test and instead used a bracelet as the identifying item (presumably because censorship would never have tolerated the necessary sight of a woman’s bare foot on stage for reasons of propriety). Today such deviations from the “normal” plot would scarcely bother anyone. What might disturb people today is the character of Angelina, who, despite all her dreaming, virtually never really protests; in fact, to all intents and purposes she identifies with her Cinderella role (as is ironically emphasised in the final scene of the current production). It is not for no reason that Albert Gier compares her to the pathologically submissive Griselda in Boccaccio’s



Decameron. The fact that audiences see Angelina as a three-dimensional creature and not just a cut-out figure is due exclusively to the music and not to her portrayal in the libretto. As was usually the case, Rossini composed this opera as well under enormous time pressure, or perhaps under even greater pressure than usual: the première was scheduled to take place on 26 December 1816, but the story was settled on only three days earlier. Jacopo Ferretti wrote the libretto in fly-by-night fashion, devouring numerous cups of “good mocha.” The ink was barely dry on the pages of the libretto as Rossini wrote his music to it. Since he realised that the work was nonetheless progressing too slowly, he turned for help to the by then forgotten Roman composer Luca Agolini, renowned primarily as a writer of passions and oratorios. He wrote the secco recitative and several unimportant passages for Rossini. Rossini also took several sections, such as the overture, from operas he himself had previously written. Ferretti too appears to have been more than just inspired by an existing Cinderella libretto: Felice Romani’s libretto for Pavesi’s Agatina reveals so many similarities (including the characters in it – Dandini and Alidoro are pure inventions of Romani that Ferretti simply adopted) that Ferretti’s version was even disparaged with the accusation of plagiarism. It seems highly likely that Rossini and all the participants must have experienced considerable stage fright, especially since several sections were only finished at the very last minute. The duet between Dandini and Mag-

nifico “Un segreto d’importanza”, for ex­ample, was written about 24 hours before the première and was only rehearsed on the day of the opening. Finally the work was premièred a month late on 25 January 1817, in other words almost exactly 196 years to the day before the Staatsoper première of the current production. According to Ferretti, at this first performance of La cener­ entola “the pallid brows of the singers were dripping with death sweat,” and several musical numbers were mercilessly booed by the audience. Incidentally, the title originally chosen by Ferretti of Angiolina had to be changed on the insistence of the censors, since at that time an Angiolina known around the city was calling attention to herself with a series of sensational seductions. An opera by the same name could have been seen as a allusion to her. Despite its lack of success at the première, as Rossini had prophesied from the outset with the words “Before Carnival is over, people will love Cenerentola,” this opera quickly became an enormously popular piece that was performed around the world, in the truest sense of the expression: in 1818 in Barcelona, in 1820 in Vienna and London, in 1822 in Paris, in 1825 in Berlin and Moscow, in 1826 in Buenos Aires and New York, and in 1844 even in Australia. We close with a quote from the exacting king of critics, Eduard Hanslick, since this dictum summarises the excellence of La cenerentola very neatly in one sentence: “This Italian Cinderella is in fact a Cinderella in clothing only; her singing brims over with pearls, velvet and silk.”



TO MY FELLOW DRAMATISTS My poor Cinderella, an unplanned daughter and the work of so few days, would like me to commend her to you, because after she leapt from the ashes of our fireplace she would like to have a guardian, and she knows that she will find none better than one of you. At her request, I would like to inform you that it should not be regarded as a mistake if she does not put in an appearance in the company of a magician who does conjuring tricks, or of a talking cat, and if she does not lose a slipper at the ball, as on the French stage or in a large Italian theatre (but instead parts with a bracelet). Rather, the decisive factor was what can be done at the Teatro Valle in terms of staging, and consideration for the good taste of the Roman audience, which does not want to see portrayed on the stage that which it finds entertaining in a story told by the fireside. The precipitous manner in which the material had to be selected and dramatised so that it could be presented to the maestro, translated little by little into verse, perhaps reduced the possibility of avoiding several of the usual mistakes in buffa libretti. But what could your goodwill and your experience not forgive? Finally, my Cinderella asks that as good guardians you tell the few who do not already know that she is the stepdaughter and not the daughter of Don Magnifico and therefore could be somewhat older than the two sisters. Furthermore, that one of my main reasons for choosing this story was precisely the ingenuous, kind-hearted charisma that is one of the primary qualities of the competent Ms Giorgi – exactly the trait that is rewarded in Cinderella, according to the fairy tale. Brothers! I know how mediocre my verses are, as I was not able to revise them, but I had the good fortune to entrust them to the modern Prometheus of harmony. He will succeed in making them sparkle and shine. PAOLO BORDOGNA as DON MAGNIFICO VITO PRIANTE as DANDINI



YOU SIMPLY CANNOT HELP FEELING HAPPY! EXCERPTS FROM STENDHAL’S REVIEW OF LA CENERENTOLA La cenerentola was composed in 1817; Rossini wrote it in Rome for Carnival season at the Teatro Valle. The introduction consists of passages sung by the three sisters: the oldest is practising a dance step in front of her large adjustable standing mirror; the second is repositioning a flower in her hair; in keeping with the role we have known her in since our childhood, poor Cinderella is blowing the fire to make coffee. This introduction is very enjoyable. Cinderella’s aria is touching. The music is very typical of Rossini. Paisiello, Cimarosa and Guglielmi never attained this degree of lightness. The “una grazia, un certo incanto” is also charming. I thought there was a great deal of wit in “quel ch’è padre, non è padre” … We hear Rossini’s talent in all its might and from its brilliant side. The cavatina of the valet Dandini, who enters disguised as the prince, (“Come un’ape ne’ giorni d’aprile”) is extremely entertaining. Here the style of the antechamber is appropriate; music and libretto have just the gloss of vulgarity that is needed to remind us of Dandini’s station, without being offensive. In Cimarosa, we tend to see the passions of the subordinate char-

acters rather than the social customs that they have acquired thanks to their place in society. The cavatina, a good concert piece for bass voice, is often sung in Paris by the outstanding Pellegrini. The duet “Zitto, zitto; piano, piano” is ravishing. In Trieste people are saying it is the masterpiece in the opera. Ramiro asks Dandini, his valet disguised as the prince, what he thinks of the character of the two daughters of the baron. The role of the tenor (Ramiro) is wonderfully fresh and completely in keeping with the emotions of a young prince, who has been told by the magician who protects him that one of the baron’s daughters will match his ideal; the magician means Cinderella. The fast tempo of this duet is as inimitable as its exuberance; it is a firework. Never before has music inundated the souls of the audience so rapidly and successfully with new and unaccustomed sentiments. Anyone who hears this duet under normal circumstances will simply not be able to help feeling happy; they will notice that the most whimsical ideas suddenly occur to them or rather that their delight at this happiness will provoke these ideas.



The quartet that occurs with the arrival of the two sisters has attractive passages of great dramatic honesty: “Con un’anima plebea! Con un’aria dozzinale!” Cinderella’s aria when she enters the ballroom is graceful and above all ingenious: “Sprezzo quei don che versa.” The second act begins with an aria by Don Magnifico in which he tells us that if one of his daughters should become the wife of the prince, all kinds of treats would shower down on him. The love-struck Ramiro sings a pleasing and very amusing aria in which he swears that he will find his beauty (“Se fosse in grembo a Giove“). This scintillating aria for a beautiful tenor voice is also an outstanding piece for a concert. In this connection I would note that the copycats have adopted Rossini’s quickness – that kind of thing can easily be copied in music – but they have never been able to emulate his wit. The following duet “un segreto d’importanza“ is the consummate art of emulation. Most probably this duet would not have existed without “Se fiato in corpo avete“ in the second act of Il matrimonio segreto. But even if you know the duet from Il matrimonio segreto by heart, you will still listen to this duet with boundless enjoyment. The words “Son Dandini, il cameriere!” make the audience laugh every time thanks to their eminently dramatic truth and the sudden wretchedness that befalls the baron in his exaggerated vanity. The duet is followed by an orchestral interlude that represents a storm during which the prince’s state coach is overturned. It is by no means written in the German style. This storm

is not at all like that conjured up by Haydn in Die Jahreszeiten or the casting of the fateful bullets in Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber. This tempest is not intended to be disastrous, yet nature is imitated faithfully; it has its moment of terror, which is rendered extremely well. Without great pretensions of being tragic, this passage adds a delightful contrast in an opera buffa. When you hear it (however not in Louvois, but played by an orchestra that has a feeling for the nuances, for example by the orchestra in Dresden or Darmstadt), you will exclaim twenty times: “How ingenious!” I have already discussed this piece numerous times with my German friends and have realised that in their eyes this storm is merely an unimpressive miniature. To understand their disdain, you must know that they only allow themselves to be moved by the frescoes of Michelangelo. For example, they love the pandemonium at the end of Der Frei­ schütz during which the fiendish bullet is fired. This is further proof that the ideal of beauty in music varies as much as the climates. After the storm follows the charming sextet “questo è un nodo avviluppato“, the originality of which is amazing. This sextet can certainly challenge the charming duet in the first act between Ramiro and Dandini as the masterpiece of the opera. The big closing aria that Cinderella sings is rather more than the usual aria di bravura. We can now confirm Rossini has concluded three operas with a grand aria for the prima donna: Sigilara, L’italiana in Algeri and Cene­ rentola.




LA CENE RENTOLA IN VIENNA Many opera lovers have probably heard about the famous “Rossini frenzy” in 1822: several of the composer’s operas met with thunderous applause when performed by a troupe of Italian singers (including prima donna Isabella Colbran, whom he married on the way to Vienna) at Vienna’s Kärntnertor Theatre. What is less well known is that Vienna had already experienced a veritable “Rossini frenzy” back in 1816. In effect as a kind of teaser, Viennese music lovers were treated to the farsa L’inganno felice in November 1816 at the Kärntnertor Theatre (where the Court Opera was then performing). The performance was not rejected outright, but was also not exactly received with exuberant enthusiasm. However, a month later Rossini’s name was on everyone’s lips: Gentile Borgondio, blessed with a magnificent contralto voice the likes of which had apparently never been heard in Vienna until then, appeared in the title role of Tancredi and belted the cavatina “Di tanti palpiti” into the auditorium. From that point on there was no stopping it; “Tanti palpiti” was heard in every corner of Vienna, printed for a variety of different voices and so distributed amongst

the music-loving population. Borgondio had to stay for a year in Vienna and participated in the first performances of L’italiana in Algeri and Ciro in Babi­ lonia. Naturally, successful parodies of Tancredi (with music by Wenzel Müller / Ferdinand Kauer) ensued at the theatres in Leopoldstadt and Josef­ stadt, and after Borgondio’s departure the work was produced in German at Kärntnertor Theatre (with the almost as successful Katharina Waldmüller in the title role). After that, a number of Rossini operas were premièred in German in Vienna – either at the Kärntnertor Theatre or at the other theatre run by the director of the Kärntnertor Theatre, but which was never elevated to the level of court theatre: Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra, Otello, La gazza ladra, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Ricciardo e Zoraide, and Il turco in Italia – all these operas were known in Vienna when the première of La cenerentola took place in Vienna on 29 August 1820. However, even La cenerentola was not completely unknown to the Viennese: on 7 March 1820, Il turco in Italia was performed for the first time at the Theater an der Wien. Viennese



audiences were not expected to tolerate the original overture as they already knew the parts of it that Rossini has reused in the sinfonia for Otello. The management therefore decided to begin Il turco in Italia with the overture to La cenerentola. Viennese music enthusiasts had however already heard this piece and the final aria for the title role under the original title in “musical academies” at the Kärntnertor Theatre. What was not widely known in Vienna was that part of this scene in fact came from Il barbiere di Siviglia, since Almaviva’s aria in the second act was not included in Viennese performances of Barbiere at that time. The performers in the première of La cenerentola on 29 August 1820 were key singers in the Vienna opera ensemble of the day, which performed both at the Kärntnertor Theatre and at the Theater an der Wien. The tenor Franz Jäger (1796-1852), who performed Don Ramiro, was born in Vienna and had been discovered for the stage by Mozart’s student Joseph Weigl and made his debut at the Theater an der Wien in 1818. He was valued particularly as a Rossini tenor, but his favourite roles also included Max in Weber’s Der Frei­ schütz and Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. From 1824 to 1828 he was a member of the ensemble of the Royal Theatre in Berlin, and from 1828 to 1836 of the Court Theatre Stuttgart. Don Magnifico was sung by Joseph Seipelt (1787-1847), who was initially engaged as a chorister at the Theater an der Wien and had been trained as a soloist by Antonio Salieri. Seipelt appeared in numerous Rossini operas at the Vienna Court Opera (including Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Mustafà in L’italiana in Algeri). He

also sang Sarastro, Pizarro, Kaspar and Komtur and was heard in the première of Weber’s Euryanthe (1823, as King Ludwig). Joseph Spitzeder (1796-1832), performing Alidoro, came from Kassel and was initially an actor but trained as a singer with Joseph Weigl. Until 1824 the artist could be heard in Vienna in roles such as Papageno, Leporello and Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri. Spitzeder then went to Berlin, and later to Munich, where his successful career was ended by his untimely death. His first wife Henriette Spitzeder-Schüler (1800-1828) had died at an even younger age; she was Vienna’s first Clorinda in La cenerentola. Originally from Dessau, the artiste had made her debut in Nuremberg in 1814, married Joseph Spitzeder in 1816 and sang for the first time in Vienna in 1819. There she also appeared as the Queen of the Night and in all three of the women’s roles in Mozart’s Don Giovanni within a period of just five years – without doubt a first in Viennese opera history. In 1824 she followed her husband to Berlin. Her stage sister in La cenerentola was Marianne Kainz (1800-1866) as Thisbe. She was born in Innsbruck and had been a pupil of Carl Maria von Weber in Prague in 1817. She went to Italy by way of Vienna, where she enjoyed huge personal success in particular as Ninetta in La gazza ladra. Later she became a great prima donna in Germany and was compared with the famous Henriette Sontag. Baritone Joseph Carl Schütz (17941840), Vienna’s first Dandini, performed first as an actor (amongst other places at the National Theatre in Vienna) and later as a singer at the Theater an der Wien and the Kärntnertor Theatre.



The artist moved to Italy with his wife Amalie Schütz-Oldosi, where he held the position of director of the Teatro Carcano in Milan, amongst others. Amalie Schütz (1804-1852, born Amalie Holdhaus in Vienna) was discovered by her famous colleague Antonia Campi. As a very young artist, she celebrated her stage debut in our première of La cenerentola and later became a member of the Court Opera ensemble. She appeared in numerous Rossini operas in 1823 (including La donna del lago, L’italiana in Algeri, Tancredi). She went on to become a celebrated prima donna in Italy, appearing at both La Scala Milan and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Schütz-Oldosi returned to Vienna in 1835 and enchanted audiences in Bellini’s Norma and La sonnambula as well as Donizetti’s Anna Bolena. However, she had already captivated the Viennese as Cenerentola in 1820 with her silvery, full contralto voice, coupled with a composed, sophisticated performance and very pleasing figure. She was enthusiastically applauded, as we know from a review in the Leip­ ziger Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. Not for an instant did the audience realise this was her stage debut. On the contrary, she was admired for her remarkably confident bearing, gestures and speech (as was customary at the time, the recitatives in German language performances were turned into spoken dialogue; the editing was done by Ferdinand Biedenfeld). Her partners performed their roles equally successfully, especially the passionately acclaimed tenor Franz Jäger, as Der Sammler reported. The performance under the musical direction of Ignaz von Seyfried (1776-

1841) was generally favourably received, and subsequent performances were well attended. As the Wiener All­ gemeine musikalische Zeitung reported, the outstanding numbers of the opera were: the close of the introduction, Cenerentola’s romance, the duet between her and Ramiro, the quintet “Signor, una parola,” several ensembles not precisely identified in the act one finale, the solo scenes by Don Magnifico, the duet between Magnifico and Dandini, parts of the sextet “Siete voi?” and naturally the prima donna’s final aria. Nevertheless, the work was not outstandingly successful; there was after all overwhelming competition from another Cinderella being performed in Vienna, namely the opéra féerie by French composer Nicolas Isouard. Isouard is now virtually unknown, but his Cendrillon was performed no less than 107 times between 1811 and 1823. There was no fear of this kind of competition at the Kärntnertor Theatre as Isouard’s opera was never performed there. Not so Rossini’s Cenerentola, which was performed here on 30 March 1822, initially also in German as Aschen­ brödel. The imperial and royal court theatre artist Johann Janitz created the sets, Biedenfeld’s texts were taken over from the Theater an der Wien. Rossini, who had arrived in Vienna several days earlier, directed musical rehearsals himself and during rehearsal gave directions for the performance – this was even mentioned in the programme. He set a faster tempo for most of the numbers, which however was not very compatible with the difficult German language. Rossini is said to have explained to the Viennese that one did not need to understand every



single word and only the overall effect was important. No one dared contradict him. In general, the opera was less well received than at the Theater an der Wien. Schütz-Oldosi and Jäger repeated their outstanding performances as Angelina and Ramiro, Seipelt played Magnifico again, Johann Michael Weinkopf appeared as Alidoro, and Anton Forti (one of the most versatile members of the Vienna Opera ensemble, who sang bass, baritone and tenor roles from Mozart’s Sarastro to Ros­ sini’s Otello) Dandini. According to surviving reviews, his fierce personality did not really match the buffo character of this role. In 1822, Rossini brought several of the most famous singers to Vienna: apart from Isabella Colbran, the tenors Giovanni David and Andrea Nozzari, mezzo soprano Fanny Eckerlin and basso buffo Antonio Ambrogi. One of the leading artists from the Italian peninsula was to honour Vienna with his talent just a year later: Luigi Lablache, who blazed a trail as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia for many decades in Vienna and who in later years was to create Giorgio in Bellini’s I puritani and the title role in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, amongst others. When this great artist took over the role of Dandini on 17 May 1823 in the first Italian performance of La cene­rentola at the Kärntnertor Theatre, its success was ensured, not least because of his outstanding colleagues: David sang Don Ramiro, Ambrogi Don Magnifico, Adelaide Comelli-Rubini (the wife of the great tenor) performed the title role, and the young Karoline Unger (later a highly respected prima donna using the name Unger-Sabatier) sang the role of Thisbe.

By 1828, La cenerentola had been performed around 40 times in Italian, with famous artists such as Rubini playing Don Ramiro, Antonio Tamburini Dandini, and Nicola Bassi or Lablache as Don Magnifico. Vienna had impresario Domenico Barbaja to thank for this golden age of Italian singing. Once he left the Danube metropolis, local artists once again had their say in German, and works like La cenerentola, which is so closely tied to the humour and melodic flow of the Italian language, was once again less successful. After five German performances in 1829, the piece disappeared from the Court Theatre’s repertoire. However, when the political situation allowed and Italian seasons could be organised at the Kärntnertor The­ atre (usually from early April to the end of June), Rossini’s La cenerentola was an invaluable and beloved part of this stagione, and the most famous Italian artists performed the lead roles. For example, in 1837 Marietta Bram­ billa could be seen in the title role alongside Agostino Rovere as Magnifico and Ignazio Marini as Dandini. In 1847 Elena Angri performed Angelina and was described by a music critic as “one of the greatest singers of the present day in every regard.” Her tenor colleague even had to reprise an aria – not precisely identified – in the second act. With a respectable 31 performances from 1854 to 1859, La cenerentola was a regular part of the Italian stagione. Adelaide Borghi-Mamo and Laura Brambilla-Marulli sang Angelina, Raffaele Scalese and Giovanni Zucchini Don Magnifico, Camillo Everardi Dandini and Emanuele Carrion Ramiro. In 1865-66 artists like Désirée Artôt (Angelina) and Luigi Fioravanti (Mag-



nifico) created another highlight in the succession of superb performances of Rossini’s opera buffa. Due to its size, the magnificent Court Opera House on the Ring that opened in 1869 was less suitable for the performance of intimate German, French and Italian comic operas than was the intimate Kärntnertor Theatre. Discussions about a separate opera house in Vienna for smaller operas led to the construction of a comic opera (the Ring Theatre, which later burned down under tragic circumstances) and the Kaiserjubiläums-Stadttheater (now Volksoper). Very few singers had the voice to fill the huge auditorium at the Court Opera, but one such was Marietta Biancolini. On 2 May 1881 she sang the role of Angelina in the première of La cenerentola at the new theatre as part of an Italian stagione. As we read in the Wiener Abendpost newspaper of 3 May 1881: “Signora Biancolini, a dignified figure, is spellbinding, from the moment she opens her mouth. From it flows a large, full, beautiful contralto voice that can effortlessly fill the house with melodious sound.” Her colleagues too, above all “the versatile buffo” Alessandro Bottero as Magnifico, “the agile baritone” Napoleone Verger as Dandini and the “well trained tenor” Giacomo Piazza “proved extremely effective.” Incidentally, the opera, under the musical direction of Raffaele Kuon, was performed as a three-act (!) melodrama giocoso, with the third act extended by a ballet interlude, a pas de six. Nearly half a century later, on 25 June 1930, the opera was reinstated in the Staatsoper’s repertoire: the opera was performed in a translation by Munich music director Hugo Röhr, with the original secco recitative and

a production by Lothar Wallerstein under the musical direction of Robert Heger. However, it was not performed at the big theatre, but at the more intimate Redoutensaal, set up as a second venue. The performance, once again enhanced with a ballet, was described by Wiener Zeitung critic Ferdinand Scherber as “often overly exaggerated, burlesque and too cumbersome.” Direc­ tor Wallerstein took the opera too seriously, he continued, and the orchestra under Heger only started conveying the mood of a comic opera towards the end of the performance. The singers (Kolomán von Pataky as Ramiro, Karl Hammes as Dandini and Karl Norbert as Magnifico) forced their voices, only Nicola Zec as Alidoro gave a “jovial and temperate buffo performance.” With “technically exquisite” coloratura, Adele Kern as Angelina portrayed a “delightful porcelain figurine” on the stage, he concluded. The piece was moved to the Staatsoper with largely the same performers ( Josef Mano­ warda took over the role of Alidoro) on 20 February 1932, where it was seen until November 1933. Older opera patrons will be able to remember the last two productions of La cenerentola at the Staatsoper. First, on 25 October 1959, the successful production of Angelina in a German translation by Joachim Popelka and stage direction by master director Günther Rennert, who however insisted on keeping the same cast. In all 21 performances of this production until January 1965, Christa Ludwig therefore sang Angelina, Emmy Loose and Dagmar Hermann Clorinda and Thisbe, Waldemar Kmentt Ramiro, Walter Berry Dandini, Karl Dönch Don Magnifico and Ludwig Welter Alidoro. Only the



musical direction changed from the conductor at the première, Alberto Erede, to Peter Ronnefeld, Wilhelm Loibner and Heinrich Bender. On 22 October 1981, La cenerentola was again performed in Italian under the musical direction of Roberto Abbado, with Agnes Baltsa as Angelina, Renate Holm and Gertrude Jahn as her evil step-sisters, Francisco Araiza as Ramiro, Enzo Dara as Dandini, Giuseppe Taddei as Don Magnifico and Rudolf Mazzola as Alidoro. In the 23 performances of this production by Giancarlo Menotti, by May 1984 amongst others Lucia Valentini-Terrani had appeared as Angelina, John Aler as Ramiro and Rolando Panerai and Alberto Rinaldi as Dandini.

The 1959 Rennert production transferred to the Volksoper in 1968 (under the musical direction of Argeo Quadri), and in 1997 the latest new production of Rossini’s brilliant opera buffa in Vienna took place at this theatre (under Gabriele Ferro). Achim Freyer’s production was still in the repertoire at the Volksoper shortly before the première of the current production at the Staatsoper. Other versions of the Cinderella story were seen at the Court Opera / Staatsoper in the 20th century: the ballets Aschenbrödel by Johann Strauß as arranged by Josef Bayer (1908-1919) and Cinderella by Sergei Prokofiev (1970-71).




LA CENERENTOLA SEASON 2023/24 PREMIÈRE OF THE PRODUCTION 26 JANUARY 2013 Publisher WIENER STAATSOPER GMBH, Opernring 2, 1010 Wien Director DR. BOGDAN ROŠČIĆ Music Director PHILIPPE JORDAN Administrative Director DR. PETRA BOHUSLAV General Editors SERGIO MORABITO, ANDREAS LÁNG, OLIVER LÁNG Design & concept EXEX Layout & typesetting MIWA MEUSBURGER Image concept MARTIN CONRADS, BERLIN (Cover) All performance fotos by MICHAEL PÖHN Printed by PRINT ALLIANCE HAV PRODUKTIONS GMBH, BAD VÖSLAU TEXT REFERENCES All texts were taken from the La cenerentola programme of the Vienna State Opera (première: January 26, 2013). IMAGE REFERENCE Cover: Golf, ball beside hole (Photo by Mike Powell / Getty Images). ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS Andrew Smith. Reproduction only with approval of Wiener Staatsoper GmbH / Dramaturgy. Holders of rights who were unavailable regarding retrospect compensation are requested to make contact.

YOUR OWN PRIVATE CONCERT HALL THE NEW LEXUS RX PLUG-IN HYBRID Our new luxury SUV shines with state-of-the-art powertrain technology, an excellent environmental balance and outstanding road performance. But we are also setting new standards when it comes to sound with the Mark Levinson® Premium Surround Sound System. Design, powertrain and sound combine to deliver a virtuoso performance! Discover more at

LEXUS WIEN NORD | KEUSCH | DAS AUTOHAUS | Lorenz-Müller-Gasse 7–11 | 1200 Vienna, Austria LEXUS WIEN SÜD | KANDL | DAS AUTOHAUS | Breitenleer Str. 33 | 1220 Vienna, Austria Lexus RX 450h+: total system output 227 kW (309 PS). Standard fuel economy: 1.1 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 25 g/km, power consumption 17.7–17.5 kWh/100 km, electric range (EAER combined) 67–68 km, electric range (EAER city) 87–90 km. Figure shows a symbolic image. Mark Levinson is a registered trademark of Harman International Industries, Incorporated

OUR ENERGY FOR YOUR PASSION. The Vienna State opera is one of the most important opera houses in the world. As an Austrian and internationally active company, we are proud to be the general sponsor and to support this unique cultural venue with all our energy since 2014. You can find more information about the OMV sponsorship projects at


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.