This charming and rarely performed chamber operetta is given new life in Northern Opera Group’s new filmed version.
Playful, elegant and filled with gorgeous music that is performed with great grace, Sophie Gilpin’s production really gets to the heart of this unique take on the classic fairytale.
Composed by Pauline Viardot and performed by a cast of seven, this hour long version is filled with strong characterisations and sweeps along effortlessly – but there are a few unique twists within the story that make it stand out.
It is a lighthearted take on the story – particularly when the the prince transforms himself into his servants on a couple of occasions, but thanks to the sincerity of the music and lyrics (expertly translated by Rachel M Harris) it seems to be emotionally well grounded. On piano, Jenny Martins offers a wonderfully delicate performance, enhancing the rich variety of moods throughout with great ease.
Gilpin has directed this production with great style, really making the most of locations in Leeds including the Temple Newsam which is the palace. The ball scene in particular feels lavish and stylish, enhanced further by Laura Jane Stanfield’s elegant costumes. There are also lovely touches in the way in which Polly Rockman’s story book animations are used – adding to the family friendly element. It really does capture a lot of detail as well – just look out for the toe tapping sequence in the build up of the trying on the shoe.
For me however, the transformation from singing to dialogue feels a little bit abrupt in places, while some scene transitions could have been done slightly smoother. This can be seen really early on as Cinderella sings ‘Il etait jadis un prince’ switching from singing to dialogue in a way that doesn’t quite make sense in terms of consistency.
This being said, the performances from the cast are all extremely strong and a pleasure to listen to. Claire Wood as Cinderella offers an intelligent and thoughtful characterisation with uplifting vocals, Nicholas Watts is strong and suitably charismatic as the prince and Louise Wayman (Maguelonne) and Naomi Rogers (Armelinde) have a great chemistry together as the two sisters.
It is lovely to see that the Northern Opera Group has discovered this rarely performed piece and has been well brought to life here – but the piece itself feels slightly inconsistent. This being said it does have a unique charm about it that will please those who are looking for a different interpretation of this classic fairy tale.
By Emma Clarendon
Tickets to view Cinderella can be booked by visiting: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/cinderellaopera