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Massenet: Cendrillon


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Editorial Reviews

Recent Grammy award-winner Joyce DiDonato stars as Cinderella in the debut Covent Garden production of Massenet's Centrillon. DiDonato captures all hearts- not just Prince Charming's- in this enchanting, sophisticated retelling of the classical fairy tale. The charming production is by the famed French opera director Laurent Pelly (who also directed the best-selling DVD of Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment starring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Florez).


The Cinderella fairy tale as seen through the eyes of the belle epoque, Massenet's Cendrillon was first performed at the Opera-Comique in Paris in 1899 and its gorgeous score embraces pathos, pastiche, broad humor, subtle eroticism and sheer magic. In Summer 2011, its debut at London's Royal Opera House was built around mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who first took on the title role at the Santa Fe festival in 2006.


The New York Times found Joyce DiDonato's performance "thoroughly enchanting. She won sympathy for the girl's plight at once, and her exquisite articulation of the repeated phrase "Vous etes mon Prince Charmant" in the first love duet- surely the opera's most ravishing moments- was flawless."


Supporting DiDonato are bass-baritone Jean-Philippe Lafont, who made his Covent Garden debut in this production, soprano Eglise Gutierrez, mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, contralto Ewa Podles, and conductor Bertrand de Billy.


Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Joyce DiDonato, Alice Coote, Ewa Podles, Jean-Philippe Lafont, Bertrand de Billy
  • Directors: Laurent Pelly
  • Writers: Jules Massenet
  • Producers: Royal Opera House
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, NTSC, Color
  • Language: French (DTS 5.1), French (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Erato Disques
  • DVD Release Date: May 22, 2012
  • Run Time: 165 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007CYKHIW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,385 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
75%
4 star
17%
3 star
8%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 12 customer reviews
The joys and pains of deep love are beautifully depicted in the music.
A. Lupu
The fact that the designer used a "book" background felt like I was opening the fairytale book before my eyes, and reading the pages as they turned.
Amazon Customer
A beautiful performance, esp. by DiDonato, of beautiful music with an excelklent supporting cast.
H.C.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By DDD VINE VOICE on June 12, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Jules Massenet's Cendrillon is not an opera I would have imagined being available in a DVD format. The Met has never staged it and performances have been few. Part of the problem is that Massenet has been out of favor both with critics and the opera going public. Manon and Werther have been revived with some frequency. Thais is revived when you have a diva that has enought cachet to request it and enough box office pull to warrant its revival. Cendrillon has been recorded by Columbia/Sony with von Stade who championed the work and was able to get it mounted for her. To date this is the only recording. Alas it was compromised when the powers that be cast Nicolai Gedda as Prince Charming when the role was written for a mezzo-soprano. Perhaps they thought that the opera would prove more acceptable to a public who really didn't know it. Since it was "late: Gedda the results were poor and the effects that Massenet had achieved in the scenes between Lucette and Prince Charminig were destroyed. ROH, however, got it right as regards casting. In fact they have made the strongest possible argument for more frequent revivals. Cendrillon, though, is not of study construction as is Boheme which has survived any number of indifferent performances and survived. Cast it from strength, mount it with style and conduct and sing it with love and you have an audience. Otherwise, don't bother.

It is easy to critize Massenet and other French composer of the mid nineteenth century such as Delibes, Thomas and Gounod. They were guilty of assaulting great works of literature, emasculating them and wonder of wonders they were successful--for a time. (I am excluding Berlioz, Bizet and Debussey from this group for obvious reasons.) Massenet was perhaps the most successful of the group.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Gregory B. Mowery on June 30, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
One of my most prized opera recordings is a mid-70s CBS set of CENDRILLON with the title role sung to absolute perfection by Frederica von Stade, who embodied everything the role Cinderella requires. Von Stade's signature virtue of charm makes her an ideal Lucette and vocally the role matched very distinctive voice with its beautiful colors, wide range, and elegant French diction. Ruth Welting was another reason for its success. Her La Fee was pure spun honey and she sat on its extreme top range with confidence and musical panache. The rest of the cast, with one glaring exception was ideal. But someone made the fatal mistake of casting a tenor in the role of of the Prince. Gedda sings it as well as can be expected, but it's all wrong. It's a trouser role for a mezzo and his tenor sounds completely out of sorts in this substitution.

More than thirty years later comes this delightful DVD from a Laurent Pelly production at Covent Garden, and it rightfully restores the Prince to the mezzo soprano, and what a mezzo she is. Alice Coote is a perfect prince, besotted by his Cendrillon and singing with power and finesse. The wonderful duets Massenet assigned to the lovers are simply gorgeous here. The supporting cast is excellent with Eglisse Gutierrez a wonderfully worldly La Fee and singing with superb control, the fearsomely funny Eva Podles as the imperious and pompous step mother. My only caveat is Jean-Philippe Lafont's wobbly, unfocused singing, which undermined the tenderness in his one big scene with Cendrillon.

At the center of this confection is Joyce di Donato. I never thought anyone could match von Stade in the part. Ms. DiDonato's is fully her equal with softly lofted pianissimi, a rich tonal pallette, and equally elegant French.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. Denes on July 25, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Massenet composed his opera about Cenerentola nearly 80 years after Rossini did his. And if you are looking for the outburst of the non-stop hilarity and the musical jokes of Rossini, you won't find it here. Also, while the Cendrillon was highly successful and popular in its time, it does not reach up to the artistic and musical levels offered by Massenet's other operas, like Manon, or Thais or Werther.

Nevertheless, this is a delightful opera and it is well presented by The Royal Opera. Laurent Pelly created a ingenious setting with movable walls which are covered [in French] with the story of Cinderella, and which open and close book-like. The opera's story line is much closer too the original [written by C. Perrault] than that of the Rossini: here Cenerentola has a henpecked father who married a devilish old countess with two daughters. The costumes are lavish [designed by Mr. Pelly], and the action is well directed. Most of the singers are excellent, especially my favorites, Joyce DiDonato and Alice Coote, [Cendrillon and the Prince Charmante] with their many love duetts. The coloratura soprano Fairy Mother [Eglise Gutierrez] has a beautiful voice and I will be looking for her on other DVD-s. Ewa Podles, the experienced Polish mezzo, brings most of the humor to the stage with her two "daughters". Jean-Philippe Lafont, the father, has relatively simple music to sing, but unfortunately he has difficulties finding the right starting note when the orchestra does not give it to him ahead [which is very often, since this is how Massenet wrote the music] and then he sounds "bleating". The dances are entertaining and well choreographed and the overall visual impression is very good. Bertrand Billy is an excellent conductor and he keeps the production going at a good clip.

In summary, this DVD will give you plenty of pleasure, especially if you watch it a couple of times.
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