Don’t let the Italian title disguise the fact that this is Rossini’s take on the same “Cinderella” that is currently leaping off DVD shelves in its Disney incarnation. No, there is no glass slipper here, no carriages turning into gourds at inopportune moments, and the evil stepmother and fairy godmother are male in this version, but the focus is still on persecuted girl meets royal boy with the major difference here that boy and girl sing their heart out in the bel canto style, i.e., highly ornamented vocal showpieces that focus on beauty of sound. Lyric has been trying to cast superstar mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli in this, her signature role, for years, but Bartoli has thus far successfully eluded Lyric. Bulgarian mezzo Vesselina Kasarova has had enough success with the role that she was cast, despite the fact that her vocal color is much too dark for a role that calls for brightness and splendor. Making his welcome Lyric debut, Puruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez is an impressive prince who can toss off his sustained high C’s as part of a vocal line and with a beautiful, light tenor timbre. In a case of casting musical chairs, Italian baritone Alessandro Corbelli, originally scheduled to sing the Prince’s valet Dandini, replaced the originally announced Italian bass-baritone Alfonso Antoniozzi as the stepfather Don Magnifico, and third-year Lyric Opera Center member Levi Hernandaz ended up replacing Corbelli as Dandini. The practical effect of this is some occasionally tentative singing in roles that demand lightning-fast technique and timing, though the work’s comedy remains largely intact. The stepsisters—Lyric Opera members Lauren Curnow and true contralto Meredith Arwady—steal many of their scenes with their antics and vocal prowess and conductor Bruno Campanella keeps orchestral textures light and crisp despite some slow tempos. (Dennis Polkow)
This production is now closed.