Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cinderella #116 La Cenerentola An Opera by Giaochino Rossini (1817)

Elizabeth Inverarity, age 17, as Cinderella,
Covent Garden, London. 1831

Once upon a time, there lived a little boy named Giaochino. 
He grew up to compose operas, including Elisabetta, regina d'Inghlaterra, Torvaldo e Dorliska, and one called La Cenerentola. It was performed for the first time at the Teatro Valle Theater in Rome, Italy, on January 25, 1817. 
ACT ONE Scene One: The Baron's Mansion
Introduction: Clorinda, Tisbe,(the stepsisters), Cinderella, also known as Angelina, Don Magnifico, the Baron and Cinderella's stepfather, and  Alidoro, the prince's tutor. 
inderella's various stepsisters are seen trying on trying on some head-gear and practising a dance step.
Tisbe and Clorinda: C'No, no, no, no; there's none, there's none, None can dance a step so well, None can dance a step so well!'
They reprimand Cinderella for singing to herself her favorite song about a king who chooses a true-hearted bride rather than a rich or a beautiful one." 
Cinderella: "Long ago there lived a king 
who grew weary of a lonely, single life. 
All around he sought a wife, but there were three
who claimed the ring..."
Meanwhile, Don Ramiro, prince of Salerno, is scheming with his tutor, Alidoro, and his valet, Dandini.  A plot is laid whereby Alidoro will disguise himself as a beggar in order to see how the three sisters react. 
All: Who is there, at the door?
Alidoro:Noble ladies, I am poor.  Do not turn me from your door.
Clorinda, Tisbe: Off you beggar, go away! 
Cinderella: Here's some bread that I've been baking, More I'll gladly see you taking...
The Baron's servants and courtiers are excited by the news that has come, of a feast at the palace, just a half mile away.
Courtiers: Our Prince Ramiro will soon be here, and to his palace he'll bid you come, to dance and sup with royal cheer, then from the company he'll pick the fairest one.  Yes she, the rarest one, shall be his bride. 
Meanwhile, Prince Ramiro has plans of his own.
Ramiro: The place is deserted. Hello there!  Can no-one hear me? Unsuspected, in disguise as a servant, the ladies I shall observe.  Is no-one coming?  
RECITATIVE: Alidoro, Cinderella 
"Left behind with Cinderella, Alidora gently surprises her.  He will bring her to the ball and supply her costume and jewels." 
ACT ONE Scene Two: The Prince's Palace
"Don Magnifico has amazed the courtiers by his drinking capacity, in token of which he is to be made the prince's steward.  He dictates — while the courtiers write it down — an absurd proclamation against mixing wine with water. In another room, Prince Ramiro and Dandini  meet in haste.  Dandini, still dressed as the prince, and pursued by the stepsisters, snatches a word with Ramiro to warn him of how odious the girls are. "
ACT TWO Scene One: The Prince's Palace. Recitative and aria: Don Magnifico, Tisbe, Clorinda. 
Ramiro: This lovely unknown lady has a curious resemblance to that poor servant, the girl I saw this morningAnd now this unknown lady haunts my mind like a vision.  I think Dandini is in love with her himself. Her her comes. I'll hide myself and see what happens.
 Dandini, disguised as the prince, now enters, finds Cinderella at work.
Dandini: I've been pacing up and down waiting to see you.
Cinderella: I am honored, Your Highness, but please excuse me.
Dandini: But why? I bring my devotion and you act as if I'd hit you.
Cinderella: But if my heart were already given?
Dandini questions her, and she confesses that she has fallen in love with his servant, who is really the prince. Meanwhile, Ramiro overhears all, as Cinderella insists that she prefers to marry the one she loves, though he be only a servant and not the prince. 
Finally, Cinderella says: Take this bracelet, you'll recognize me when you find its companion.  On that day, if you still love me, I'm your forever! 
Meanwhile, "The baron and his daughters review the situation. [The unexpected appearance of a beautiful, unknown princess, i. e. Cinderella.] Upset as they are by the appearance of the unknown beauty, they are still confident of capturing the prince." 
ACT TWO Scene Two: 
RECITATIVE, SCENA AND ARIA: Tisbe, Clorinda, Ramiro, Dandini, Cinderella, Alidoro, Courtier. 
"Dandini, still acting as Prince Ramiro, has himself been smitten by Cinderella's charms.  But she turns his compliments aside" because she has loves Ramiro.
Cinderella/Ramiro: [singing together, yet each unaware of the other's idenitiy] He/She is delightful, he/she is enchanting. All my senses now beguiling, ah how sweetly he/she is smiling...
Now Alidoro and Ramiro discuss the situation and Ramiro takes action.
Ramiro: You shall be prince no longer. I'm grateful to you, but now the joke is over. Come in attendants, Give orders to the coachman In a few minutes, I'll set out on my search and find my treasure....This golden bracelet she gave me, how dearly I prize...but brighter than all its glitter, the light that's in her eyes.
Chorus: Oh, what change is on him, it takes us by surprise!
Alidoro: The night is drawing on now, that makes my plan still easier.  I'll arrange that the Prince's coach breaks down just outside the Baron's house.  'Tis perfect.  He will go in for shelter, and there he will find her. 
So: "The royal carriage has broken down. Dandini, as part of the prince's escort, stumbles into the nearest house — not realizing, for a moment, that it is the baron's. But then, still playing the part of the prince, tells the Baron that "all has been decided" and sets him up for the big surprise.
Now, "the stepsisters realize the game is up.  Alidoro enters and reveals that he was "the beggar" whom they repulsed and Cinderella pitied. " Prince Ramiro has identified Cinderella by means of the bracelet, she has recognized him because he has the matching one.  They are giddy with love;  Don Magnifo and his daughters are shocked and outrages. And "the baron's property will have to be sold, as he has squandered Cinderella's dowry.  He and his daughters will be impoverished unless they beg Cinderella's pardon." 
ACT TWO Scene Three: A Room With a Throne
Chorus, Scena and Rondo-Finale: Cinderella, Courtiers, Ramiro
"Fortune's wheel has turned as the chorus of courtiers proclaim, assembling to welcome their new princess. All are to witness the "the triumph of goodness."...The Baron and his daughters have by this time all realized the prudence of apology.  Cinderella asks her consort to allow her the royal privilege of  'revenge'— but her revenge is to pardon them. The final item of the opera now follows.  It is a long, brilliant aria with chorus — that is, with the unified support of all the other characters as well as the chorus proper. Starting as a simple, catchy tune, it proceeds to elaborate vocal variations with choral accompaniment. 
 English National Opera Guide(1980)Libretto, La Cenerentola (Cinderella)
Notes: The title of this opera is very similar to an early Italian Cinderella story contained in Giambattista Basile's Il Pentamerone.  That story is called La Gatta Cenerentola, or Hearth Cat.  There is yet another story called Hearth Cat from Portugal. In any case, the plot here is significantly different from either the Perrault version, or the Grimm Brothers.  Rossini did borrow a very common motif from the Catskin variant of Cinderella, which he would likely have been familiar with.  That is the use of a ring as the token of recognition.  Here it is a bracelet; in most such stories it is a finger ring and is either slipped secretly onto Cinderella's finger while she dances with the prince, or she herself deliberately puts it into his soup. 
Montessori Connection: Italian Opera/Rossini
1. Read this summary to help understand the plot of Rossini's La Cenerentola.
2. Listen to the opera or watch a DVD of it: Rossini: La CenerentolaRossini - La Cenerentola / Campanella, Bartoli, Dara, Rossini - La Cenerentola / Bartoli, Dara, Matteuzzi, Corbelli, Pertusi, ChaillyHouston Grand Opera [VHS]