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NZ Opera’s Cinderella story is more than a fairytale

10 March, 2015

Transformation and justice - NZ Opera’s Cinderella story is more than a fairytale

“Hold your head up and you’ll go far” sings Lady Gaga in Born This Way. That is the theme of the new NZ Opera production of Rossini’s Cinderella story, La cenerentola, says its director Lindy Hume. “Show the world who you are, and people will love it.”

The original Grimm brothers’ fairytale ran the gamut from cruelty to candy, and designer Dan Potra has created a Dickensian chocolate box set for the production that reflects the romantic side of La cenerentola. There’s an Olde Curiosity Shoppe, allusions to the gardens of Brideshead Revisited’s Castle Howard, and a nod towards Downton Abbey, where the servants are not always what they seem.

Charles Dickens, with his themes of social justice, was popular shortly after Rossini wrote Cinderella, says Hume, “so it’s fairly easy to stay in that world; there’s some politics in there as well.”

Rossini’s magically mischievous music tells a very human story of kindness, forgiveness and generosity, while Lindy Hume does not shy away from the firmer themes of fairness, and cruelty versus goodness, that pervade the various retellings of the story. Overall, “I’m with Grimm” she says, as she adds a “slightly Gothic quality” to the production.

But there’s still more than a little magic, and, of course, a handsome prince, while the Fairy Godmother is embodied in Alidoro, the prince’s “fixer”, says Lindy. Part magician, part MC, he effects a full external rags-to-riches transformation for Angelina (Cinderella), but she already has the best heart in the kingdom. “The true transformation is the internal one she brings to everybody else,” says Lindy Hume. “I think it’s a story with the gleaming potential for goodness in a dark world.”

The male chorus wraps up over two-and-a-half hours of sparkling music and visual fantasy with the moral: “Envy and pride are vanquished, and goodness wins the day”.

NZ Opera general director Stuart Maunder believes the New Zealand-built show will continue the success being enjoyed currently by the national opera company. “We were over-capacity for our two outdoor opera events this summer, when thousands enjoyed our emerging and established opera artists. The company’s current, touring opera for schools has a waiting list. Now we are bringing the bubbly, bright music of Rossini’s classic fantasy to the stage. It’s a wonderful momentum for this year’s season.”



New Zealanders Sarah Castle, Amelia Berry and Rachelle Pike shine in this delicious tale. While Sarah enchants in the virtuosic title role, her magnificently naughty stepsisters run wild. Adding further international flavour, John Tessier steals hearts as our dashing Prince with Marcin Bronikowski as
his reliable sidekick Dandini. Andrew Collis tries to spoil everyone’s plans as the evil stepfather, while the delightful Ashraf Sewailam leads us towards our happy-ever-after. This beloved fairytale-opera comes to life in our most vivacious and effervescent show of the season. Brought together under the supreme direction of Lindy Hume and NZO Music Director Wyn Davies, La cenerentola will be, quite simply, magic - playful and irresistible.

Angelina [Cinderella] Sarah Castle
Don Ramiro John Tessier
Dandini Marcin Bronikowski
Alidoro Ashraf Sewailam
Don Magnifico Andrew Collis
Clorinda Amelia Berry
Tisbe Rachelle Pike

Accompanied by Orchestra Wellington and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Featuring the Freemasons Chorus. Sung in Italian with English surtitles.
A co-production between New Zealand Opera and Opera Queensland.

Conductor Wyn Davies
Director Lindy Hume
Production Designer Dan Potra
Lighting Designer Matthew Marshall

9, 14, 16 May when the clock strikes 7.30pm
12 May when the clock strikes 6pm
St James Theatre

30 May, 3, 5 June when the clock strikes 7.30pm
7 June when the clock strikes 2.30pm
ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre .

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