La Cenerentola Study Guide

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LA CENERENTOLA Gioachino Rossini STUDY GUIDE OPERA IN TWO ACTS By Gioachoni Rossini Libretto by Jacopo Ferretti Based on the fairy tale Cendrillon by Charles Perrault In French with English SurTitles™ CONDUCTOR  Leslie Dala DIRECTOR  Rachel Peake VANCOUVER PLAYHOUSE April 27 and May 12 at 2PM May 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 at 7:30PM DRESS REHEARSAL Thursday, April 25 at 2PM RELAXED PERFORMANCE Thursday, May 2 at 12:30PM VANCOUVER OPERA FESTIVAL April 27—May 5



VANCOUVER OPERA FESTIVAL: HIGHLIGHTS FOR EDUCATORS AND STUDENTS PARTY ON THE PLAZA Sunday, April 28 – 10AM–5PM Queen Elizabeth Theatre Lobby, šxwƛ̓ exәn Xwtl’a7shn (Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza) Join us for a day of children’s activities and performances, with face painting, musical costumes and the Roaming Diva on stilts. For adults, the Patio Bar opens at noon with live performances all afternoon. Free to the public. The Party on the Plaza takes place rain or shine. FREE

LA CENERENTOLA (RELAXED PERFORMANCE) Thursday, May 2 – 12:30PM Vancouver Playhouse Relaxed performances are designed to be sensitive to and accepting of audiences that are not able to tolerate the usual theatre environment during a live performance. The intent is to “soften” the performance and allow for a more casual environment within the theatre. The approach removes barriers for audience members with sensory processing conditions, autism, learning/ intellectual disabilities or parents with young children. A great opportunity to introduce young people to opera. GROUP SALES AVAILABLE

MUSIC, CEREMONY AND PROTOCOL: INDIGENIZING MUSIC EDUCATION Saturday, May 4 – 12:00PM–3:30PM The Annex Designed for elementary and secondary music teachers, this professional development workshop will provide teachers with a framework to bring Indigenous ways of knowing about music into the classroom. The content will address questions around protocol, reconciliation, and repertoire using contemporary music and art by Indigenous artists, including The Flight of the Hummingbird, as inspiration. $60/$25 STUDENTS* *Includes welcome lunch, workshop, and two tickets to Gounod’s Faust at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Sponsored by Dr. Heather F. Clarke



LA CENERENTOLA Gioachino Rossini


Nicole Joanne Brooks*


Gena van Oosten*


Simone McIntosh


Tyler Simpson


Peter McGillivray


Charles Sy


Daniel Thielmann

*Member of the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program With the Vancouver Opera Chorus and the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. SCENIC DESIGNER

Daniel Meeker


Sue Bonde


Alan Brodie


Carmen Garcia


Marie Le Bihan/Off Road Hair Design


Parvin Mirhady


Perri Lo*


Melania Radelicki


Marijka Asbeek Brusse, Michelle Harrison


Amanda Testini


Sara Smith


Leslie Dala


Sarah Jane Pelzer*

The performance will last approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes. There will be one 25 minute intermission. First produced at the Teatro Valle, January 25, 1817. First produced by Vancouver Opera, December 5, 1981

Costumes and props constructed and provided by the Portland Opera.




RELAXED PERFORMANCE DETAILS On May 2nd, Vancouver Opera is presenting La Cenerentola in its entirety as a relaxed performance. Relaxed performances are designed to be sensitive to and accepting of audiences that are not able to tolerate the usual theatre environment during a live performance. The intent is to “soften” the performance and allow for a more casual environment within the theatre. The approach removes barriers for audience members with sensory processing conditions, autism, learning/intellectual disabilities or parents with young children. The performance includes the following modifications: • Lighting and sound cues will be softened • House lights will not go completely down • Audiences members will be allowed to leave and re-enter the theatre as needed • Quiet activities will be provided in the upper lobby • Sound cancelling headphones and/or earplugs will be made available Staff from the Canuck Autism Network will be present at the performance to work with theater staff in support of the audience. Vancouver Opera has also created a social story for the performance that will include an introduction to the theatre as well as a visual guide to the story. It is also a good resource to use in tandem with the study guide and is available on the Vancouver Opera website. It will also be available at the performance.




STUDY GUIDE OBJECTIVES Opera is an art-form that benefits from “spoilers”; the more prepared students are in advance of attending the performance, the deeper and richer their experience will be! This study guide has been designed to be accessible to all teachers regardless of previous experience in music or opera. Teachers are encouraged to adapt the lessons to meet the dynamic needs of their students in music rooms, theatres and classrooms. The lessons are designed to engage students in learning about the opera they will be attending and thinking critically about art and its meaning. How deeply students go into this material will depend on each teacher. However, we do suggest the following as the minimum commitment to preparing for the performance. • Students are familiar with the synopsis and at least one piece of music. • Students can identify the socio-historical context of the opera (when and where it was written). • Students are given the opportunity to reflect on and discuss their response to the performance. The lessons are designed to be either Quick or In-Depth and for use Before the Performance and/or After the Performance to provide teachers with the ability to tailor lessons to their classrooms. Each lesson also contains an Overview, specific Objectives and a list of the Materials needed for the activity.

CONNECTIONS TO THE CURRICULUM The study guide has been prepared in accordance with the new BC Curriculum and targets secondary classes. Each activity addresses includes specific learning objectives and can be adapted for use in most arts and humanities coursework. Elementary teachers will be able to modify the activities to meet the needs of their students with little difficulty Throughout the secondary arts education curriculum, the Big Ideas are connected to the role the arts plays in society and in our individual lives. The activities within this study guide address the following themes found within the specific Big Ideas at each grade level: 1. Dance, drama, music and visual arts are each unique languages for creating art and communicating. 2. The arts are an essential aspect of building community and interpersonal relationships. 3. The arts reflect and respond to the cultures within which they are performed. Creative works are socially constructed and often challenges the status quo. 4. Personal and collective identity is explored, expressed and impacted through arts experiences. These larger concepts can be linked to the Big Ideas found in the Social Studies and English/French Language Arts curriculum. The study guide has also been prepared in consideration of the First People’s Principles of Learning and whenever possible, activities will include resources that address the learning standards related to Indigenous knowledge and education. The study guide for La Cenerentola was prepared by Colleen Maybin, Director Education and Community Engagement




GETTING READY THREE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK (AND HAVE ANSWERED) BEFORE COMING TO THE OPERA WHAT IS OPERA? Opera is an interdisciplinary experience in which singers and musicians put on a dramatic production. This means that, just as in musicals, music (sung and instrumental), theatre, and visual art (the set design and creation, as well as costumes and lights) come together to tell a story. Because opera was first popular in Italy, many of the words associated with it are from the Italian language. The word “opera” means “work” in Italian, as in “work of art”. Opera is usually written in the language of the composer and the language of the country it will be heard in. Opera has been around for a while (for a little over four hundred years, in fact!), and therefore opera-singers sing without microphones, which hadn’t yet been developed by the time opera started. Opera singers have developed a special singing technique to be heard over the orchestra without microphones. They sing so loudly that to protect each other’s hearing, they make sure not to face directly towards each other while singing. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO SING OPERA? If you were a top opera singer, you could make as much as $20,000 per performance! And what’s so hard about being an opera singer, you ask? Opera singers often have as many years of training as physicians. They must learn to have a voice powerful enough to project across a full orchestra, yet flexible enough to taper to a soft piano level when it is called for. Singers must also learn English, French, German, and Italian – even Russian and Czech! They must be able to memorize and sing many different operas (which can be up to 4 hours long!), and to dance and act while singing under hot lights. Critics and journalists are not always kind, and singers must also learn to brush off negative reviews in time to perform the same show the following night. HOW DOES AN OPERA GO FROM WORDS AND NOTES ON THE PAGE TO FULLY STAGED PERFORMANCE? The first thing to happen is the assembly of a creative team which includes the music director, stage director, singers, orchestra musicians, and set and costume designers. Everyone works with the score and libretto to prepare for the first rehearsals. Opera singers are expected to arrive at the first rehearsal “off book”, meaning that they must have the entire score memorized in advance! Once the designers have completed their designs, artists and sewers work to create all the props, sets and costumes. Lighting designers work with the stage director to add light and shade to the stage. At first the opera is rehearsed in sections – one scene at a time. During “tech week”, everyone moves into the theatre and all aspects of the opera from the acting to the music to the moving of the sets is practiced over and over again. Finally, opening night arrives. Et voila! There is an opera!





SYNOPSIS ACT I Angelina is a beautiful young girl whose life gets turned upside down when her beloved mother dies. She is left in the care of Don Magnifico, the stepfather she barely knows, who quickly spends his way through her inheritance. We see her in his rundown castle where his daughters, Clorinda and Tisbe, are in the middle of one of their usual arguments. Angelina, now called Cenerentola, serves as the family maid. She sings her favourite song about a king who married a common girl. There is a knock on the door and Alidoro, tutor to the prince Don Ramiro, enters, dressed as a beggar. The stepsisters want to send him away, but Cenerentola gives him bread and coffee. Courtiers arrive to announce that Ramiro will soon pay a visit: he is looking for the most beautiful girl in the land and will hold a ball to choose his bride. Magnifico hopes that it will be one of the stepsisters: marriage to a wealthy man is the only way to save the family fortune. When the room is empty, Ramiro enters alone, dressed in his servant’s clothes so he can freely observe the prospective brides. Alidoro has told him that there is a girl in the house worthy to be a princess, and Ramiro is determined to find out who she is. Cenerentola returns and is startled by the presence of a stranger. The two are immediately attracted to each other. He asks her who she is, and Cenerentola stammers a confused explanation, then runs away. Finally, the “prince” arrives—in fact Ramiro’s valet, Dandini, in disguise. To Ramiro’s amusement, Magnifico, Clorinda, and Tisbe fall over themselves flattering this prince, who invites them to the ball. Cenerentola asks to be taken along but Magnifico refuses. Ramiro notes how badly Cenerentola is treated. Alidoro re-enters with information that there is a third daughter in the house but Magnifico claims she has died. Left alone with Cenerentola, Alidoro tells her he will take her to the ball and explains that her good heart will be rewarded. At the prince’s palace, Dandini shares with the prince his negative opinion of the two sisters. But both men are confused, since Alidoro has spoken well of one of Magnifico’s daughters. Clorinda and Tisbe appear again, having followed Dandini who still poses as the prince. When he offers Ramiro as a husband to the sister the prince does not marry, they are outraged at the idea of marrying a servant. Alidoro enters with a beautiful unknown lady who strangely resembles Cenerentola. Unable to make sense of the situation, they all sit down to supper, feeling as if they are in a dream. ACT II Magnifico fears that the arrival of the stranger could ruin his daughters’ chances to marry the prince. Cenerentola, tired of being pursued by Dandini, tells him that she is in love with his servant. Overhearing this, Ramiro is overjoyed and steps forward. Cenerentola, however, tells him that she will return home and doesn’t want him to follow her. If he really cares for her, she says, he will find her. She gives him a bracelet, promising when he finds the girl wearing the matching one, he will have found her. The prince resolves to win the mysterious girl. Meanwhile Magnifico, who still thinks that Dandini is the prince, confronts him, insisting that he decide which of his daughters he will marry. Dandini first advises him to be patient, then reveals that he is in fact the prince’s servant. Magnifico is furious. Magnifico and the sisters return home in a bad mood and order Cenerentola, again in rags, to prepare supper. During a thunderstorm, Alidoro arranges for Ramiro’s carriage to break down in front of Magnifico’s castle so that the prince has to take refuge inside. Cenerentola and Ramiro recognize each other. When Ramiro threatens Magnifico and his daughters who are unwilling to accept defeat, Cenerentola asks him to forgive them. Back at the palace, Ramiro and Cenerentola celebrate their wedding. Magnifico tries to win the favour of the new princess, but she asks only to be acknowledged at last as his daughter. Born to misfortune, she has seen her life change and invites her family to join her, declaring that the days of sitting by the fire are over. —Courtesy Metropolitan Opera




ABOUT LA CENERENTOLA The story of Cinderella and her prince has been told and retold over the centuries and across many cultures. One of the most well-known versions in North America is the classic animated film produced by Disney in 1950 but the story can be traced as far back as the sixth century BCE in Greece (The opera is based on the European story that emerged in first France written by Charles Perrault in 1697.) It is this version of the story that has permeated Western European culture. La Cenerentola premiered on January 25th, 1817 in Rome. It is an example of the dramma giocoso genre of opera in which the drama of the story is accompanied with plenty of humour. The music is classical in style, full of vocal flourishes and vibrant ensemble singing. The story is a statement on class differences where the darker elements of the story are balanced by elements of farce. The director of VO’s La Cenerentola, Rachel Peake, highlights the human side of the story and the potential that exists for Cenerentola despite her troubling situation at home.

“This story contains magic. But its greatest magic comes from the power of the human spirit. Humans seeing through class, money, and shiny packaging to see the truth of someone’s spirit. Humans learning, growing, and changing. Most of all, the human ability to forgive and love, even after treatment most of us would deem unforgivable. There is no time more fitting than now for this reminder.”

The composer, Gioachinni Rossini, was only twenty-five when he composed La Cenerentola. He was already very well known in Italy and beyond after the success of The Barber of Seville which premiered in 1816. Rossini grew up on the Adriatic coast of Italy. He studied music with his father and it became clear that he was very talented. By the time he was fifteen years old, he was able to write out all the music (including orchestrations!) of the operas he attended. He had the musical equivalent of a photographic memory. La Cenerentola was commissioned by Pietro Cartoni after another opera by Rossini did not make it past the Italian censors. Cartoni paired Rossini with librettist Jacopo Ferretti to create the new opera. Initially, they struggled to find a story to work with. Feretti made many suggestions that Rossini immediately turned down. After they finally agreed on Cenerentola, Ferretti wrote the libretto in 22 days and Rossini wrote the music in 25 days. Rossini regularly used music he had used before. La Cenerentola includes music from his other operas including La gazzetta and part of an aria from The Barber of Seville. The opera was a success right away and has remained a staple of the opera repertoire since then. The Opera is based on the version by French writer Charles Perrault in 1697.




CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES The activities below are designed to have students think critically about the performance itself and to reflect on the experience of going to the opera.


Before Performance/Quick or In-Depth


Repeated listening to select arias and choruses helps students to build a relationship to the opera before they see it. Recognizing a piece of music as it begins makes the experience of being in the audience very rewarding. These three arias demonstrate the musical style of Rossini and the humour within the opera.


The objective of this lesson is to ensure students are familiar with music from the opera as well as consider the impact of repeated listening to their understanding of a piece of music.

Materials: • Audio and video of the music (links below)

• The lyrics in French and/or English

Lesson: 1.  Prior to the first listening activity, review the synopsis with the students. While the story might be familiar    to them, there are aspects of this version that are different (a bracelet instead of a shoe, the wicked    stepmother is replaced by stepfather Don Maginfico, the Fairy Godmother is a philosopher and tutor to the   prince, named Aldiro). 2.  Provide students with an English translation of the aria. Review the language and consider how is it   structured. Is it written in clear stanzas? Does it rhyme? Is the language simple? Romantic? Threatening? Use   highlighters to identify language that resonates. 3.  Go deeper into the text by exploring the meaning of the lyrics. What are the emotions being expressed   through the language? What does the audience learn about the character? 4.  Listen to the aria without the video. Brainstorm words to describe the music including both music vocabulary   and language that describes art and emotions in general. 5.  Finally, watch a performance of the opera. How does the movement on stage reflect the lyrics as well as   the music? 6.  Review the synopsis of the opera. Have students consider where in the opera this aria might take place.   After the performance, return to this discussion and have them reflect on their initial thoughts. Suggested listening: “Una vola c’era un re” from Act One Angelina (known as Cenerentola) sings about a king who marrieds a commoner. Audio Video “Miei rampolli femminini” from Act One Don Magnifico wishes for his daughters to marry well Audio Video “Questo è un nodo avviluppato” from Act Two The ensemble share their thoughts on the situation they find themselves in. Audio Video





After Performance/Quick or In-Depth


Writing reviews of concerts and performances encourages students to think critically about what they experienced in the theatre. Any student reviews would be greatly appreciated at the Vancouver Opera office!

Activity: 1.  There are many resources to assist students with the process of writing a review available online including   blackline masters and writing guides. However, the following questions work well for critiquing live   performances. How students respond to these questions can vary – working in pairs, small groups, or as a   writing assignment.

What was the overall plotline of the story?

How did you respond to the performances of the singers?

What did you think of the music? How did the music help to tell the story?

What did you think of the costumes and the sets? What was your response to the visual aspects of the opera?

Would you recommend this performance to others? Why or why not?

2.  Students can also generate their own questions using the following prompts.

What did you notice?

What did you question?

What did you wonder?






After Performance/In-Depth


Art criticism is the practice of thinking and writing about the arts and its role in our society. After attending a performance, critics share their thoughts and opinions about the work to inform both potential audiences about the performance and contribute to the larger conversation about the work in a larger context.


1.  Select a review by Vancouver theatre critic Colin Thomas to share with the class:

2.  Share the text with the class by projection. Working together analyze the review by identifying the following: A.  Description of the story B.  How does he describe his response to the play? C.  What does he say about the performances of the actors? D.  What does he say about the production (how the play is put together)? E.  What aspects of the play does he like? What doesn’t he like? F.  What is his final recommendation? 3.  Print off 2 or 3 other reviews from a variety of other sources. The Georgia Straight reviews most of the   theatre, music and film offerings in Vancouver. The Globe and Mail has a more national reach. Have   students repeat the analysis with individual reviews and share with each other. 4.  As a class, discuss how reading a review impacts their decision to see a performance. Do they read film   reviews before going to a movie? How do they decide what to see? What role does advertising play in   making decisions? What about the reviews from their peers who have seen the performance already? Extension:

Students can read the essay by Colin Thomas entitled “On Criticism”. This provocative essay explores the role of the critic and provides an illuminating picture of the relationships between artists and critics.





FURTHER RESOURCES In depth study guides for La Cenerentola Metropolitan Opera Canadian Opera Company The history of the Cinderella story La Cenerentola performed at La Scala (complete opera) For more information about Vancouver Opera’s Education Programs for elementary and secondary students, please visit


Courtney Dugan

Director, Education and Community Engagement

Coordinator, Education and Community Programs


Youth and Family Engagement Partner

Project Opera Sponsor



Emerging Artists Sponsor

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