Jules Massenet

Cinderella
 

Jules Massenet - Cendrillon
SUNY Purchase Opera | Conservatory of Music
Stage Director: Jacque Trussel
Conductor: Hugh Murphy, the Purchase Symphony Orchestra

March 25, 2012, 2pm
Performing Arts Center Recital Hall, Purchase College, New York

Cendrillon: Brittany Sokolowski
La Fée: Bronwyn White
Prince Charmant: John Park
Pandolfe: Roman Laba
Madame de la Haltière: Jamielee Page
Noémie: Anna McTiernan
Dorothée: Maggie Adams
Le Roi: Jeremy Geller

(Scenes replacing the Ballets to entertain the Prince are taken from "La Fille du Régiment" by Donizetti and "Lakmé" by Léo Delibes:)
Lakmé: Jinkyung Kim
Mallika: Chelsea Gentner
Marie: Robin Clifford
Tonio: Francisco Corredor
Sulpice: Colin Whiteman

Cendrillon (Cinderella) is an opera—described as a "fairy tale"—in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Henri Caïn based on Perrault's 1698 version of the Cinderella fairy tale.
 

It was given its premiere performance on 24 May 1899 in Paris.
 

The New Grove Dictionary of Opera notes that Massenet's sense of humour and wit is more evident in this work, and the use of recurrent motifs is more discreet, while the love music "reminds us how well Massenet knew his Wagner". Albert Carré (director of the Opéra-Comique and producer of the first staging) persuaded the composer to drop a prologue introducing the characters, but a brief epilogue survives. Another writer comments that Massenet’s perfectly proportioned score moves from a scene worthy of Jean-Baptiste Lully's Armide (in Cendrillon’s monologue), through Rossinian vocalises and archaic orchestrations to ballet movements on a par with Tchaikovsky.

Roles

CENDRILLON
 

(Cinderella)

Opera in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Henri Caïn based on Perrault's 1698 version of the Cinderella fairy tale


 

Cendrillon (Cinderella)    soprano
Madame de la Haltière, stepmother of Cendrillon    contralto
Le Prince Charmant (Prince Charming)    falcon or 'soprano de sentiment' 
La Fée (the Fairy)    light soprano
Noémie, stepsister of Cendrillon    soprano
Dorothée, stepsister of Cendrillon    mezzo-soprano    
Pandolfe, Cendrillon’s father    'basse chantante' or baritone
Le Roi (the King)    baritone 
Le Doyen de la Faculté    tenor (trial)
Le Surintendant des plaisirs    baritone
Le Premier Ministre    'basse chantante' or baritone    
1st spirit    mezzo-soprano 
2nd spirit    soprano 
3rd spirit    soprano 
4th spirit    mezzo-soprano  
5th spirit    
soprano  
6th spirit    
soprano 
Voice of the royal herald (off-stage)    spoken    
A ballerina 
Chorus: servants, courtiers, doctors, ministers, lords and ladies; Ballet – will-o'-the-wisps, tailors, hairdressers, milliners, a fiancé and fiancée, daughters of nobility, princesses, dewdrops.
 

Premiere Cast, 24 May 1899

Synopsis

A prologue in front of the curtain, suppressed before the premiere, introduced the characters and invited the audience to enjoy the fairy-tale "to escape from dark realities (pour échapper à des réalités sombres)" and to believe in the "fabulous (fabuleux)". The final words of the prologue are repeated at the end of the opera.

ACT I 


Chez Madame de la Haltière
 

A large room in the house of Madame de la Haltière with a chimney grate. Servants are busy preparing for the ball. Pandolfe, the second husband of Madame de la Haltière, wonders why he forsook the calm of his country home to marry a selfish countess with her two daughters, and pities the lot of his own loving daughter Lucette (Cendrillon). Madame de la Haltière and her daughters Noémie and Dorothée dress while the mother tells them how to attract the prince's attention at the ball. Late in leaving, Pandolfe resigns himself to accompanying them. Cendrillon enters, singing of how she wishes she could also have gone to the ball. After completing her chores she falls asleep by the warm chimney hearth. The Fairy Godmother and her attendants come in, transform Cendrillon into magnificent clothes for the ball, but warn the girl that their spell will only last until midnight, and that the glass slippers will protect her from being recognized by her family. Cendrillon promises to return at midnight, and sets off for the ball.
 

ACT II
 

The royal palace
 

At the royal hall, all is excitement, except for the prince who is melancholy. The king reminds him that he must choose a wife. After five ballet entrées where the eligible princesses present themselves to the prince, a heavenly unknown beauty (Cendrillon) enters and enchants everyone—except for Madame de la Haltière and the two step-sisters. The prince and Cendrillon fall in love at first sight but when the clock strikes midnight Cendrillon runs off, as the stunned prince looks on.

ACT III
 

First tableau: The return from the ball
 

Cendrillon returns to the house, having lost one of her glass slippers in her flight, and relives the charm of the ball. Her fine gown has changed back into a plain dress. She hears the returning family carriage and hides in her room. Madame de la Haltière and her daughters insist that the prince rejected the unknown beauty. Cendrillon is on the point of fainting, when her father angrily sends the other women from the room. Tenderly he promises Cendrillon that they will return to his country home. When he has left, she recalls her mother’s death, and to prevent her father any more pain, Cendrillon flees into the night, to die on her own.
 

Second Tableau: The Fairies' Oak
 

Under a magic oak tree in an enchanted forest, the prince and Cendrillon are drawn together by the fairies. An enchanted arbour of flowers blocks their view of each other but they recognize each other's voice and sing of their love. The prince offers his heart to see his beloved. The flowers disappear and the lovers, surrounded by the spirits, fall into a slumber in each other’s arms.

 

ACT IV
 

First Tableau: The terrace chez Cendrillon
 

Back in Cendrillon's home, Pandolfe watches over his sleeping daughter, who was found months previously by a stream. Cendrillon awakes and her father relates how in her delirium she spoke to him about the prince, the oak and the slipper. Pandolfe convinces her that it was all a dream. Madame de la Haltière and her daughters appear with the news about an assembly of all eligible princesses at the King's palace. As a royal herald summons the princesses to go and try on the glass slipper, Cendrillon realizes that her dream was true. During the march of the princesses, the scene changes.
 

Second Tableau: A great hall in the palace
 

Back at the ballroom in the palace the prince recognizes Cendrillon among the princesses. The lovers are reunited and acclaimed by all present, even Madame de la Haltière. All turn to the audience and, out of character, sing that the piece is over and they have done their best to send the audience through "les beaux pays bleus (the beautiful blue countries)".