Met’s Cendrillon Live HD in Cinemas on Saturday, April 28 (Encores on May 2): Best Met Offering This Year?

What: On Saturday, April 28, the Metropolitan Opera live HD in the Cinemas broadcast will feature Cendrillon (1899) by French composer Jules Massenet and librettist Henri Cain, based on Charles Perrault’s version of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella (1697).  Massenet (1842-1912) is highly regarded for his operatic craftsmanship and beautiful music.  Two of his operas, Werther and Manon, are part of the standard opera repertoire, and several other operas by him are performed occasionally. Cendrillon closely follows Perrault’s Cinderella, and this is its first staging at the Met.

left: Joyce DiDonato as Cendrillon, a.k.a. Cinderella. right: Maya Lahyani as stepsister Dorothee, Stephanie Blythe as stepmother Madame de la Haltiere, and Ying Fang as stepsister Noemie. Photos by Ken Howard; courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera.

Movie theaters representing several different chains carry the HD Live performances in the US.  Use this link to find those nearest you; use city and state, not zip code in the search bar.  After the Saturday performances, an Encore performance is typically shown on the following Wednesdays.  The Saturday performance only is broadcast live, but the video shown on the following Wednesday is exactly what the audiences see and hear on Saturday, and the remaining seat selection is typically much, much better. 

left: Kathleen Kim as Fairy Godmother applying a little magic to sleeping Joyce DiDonato as Cendrillon. right: Cendrillon is transformed. Photos by Ken Howard; courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera.

Why You Should Go:

1.     Cendrillon is by all accounts a beautiful opera in music, singing, and staging in which Massenet emphasized the lower registers of the female voice. 

2.     Outstanding mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sings the lead role and is perhaps the reigning diva among mezzos.  She has sung Cinderella in five previous productions in the US and Europe.  Her current performance drew this comment from ascerbic critic James Jorden of The Observer, “From the very first note she sang, DiDonato enthralled: she was not just a mezzo in some opera, but a human being upon whose life seemed to hang the fate of the universe.”

3.     Excellent mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, in a pants role, plays Prince Charming.  The love duets are not to be missed.

4.     In supporting roles, excellent mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe plays the nasty stepmother, and excellent coloratura soprano Kathleen Kim hits some high notes as the fairy godmother.

5.     The staging is inventive, and the magic of the story is portrayed as opposed to Rossini’s adult version of Cinderella, Cenenterola.  Ms. DiDonato is known for that role as well.

 Cendrillon travels to the ball. Photo by Ken Howard; courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera.

Cendrillon travels to the ball. Photo by Ken Howard; courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera.

6.     If you thought of taking your kids to Engel Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, consider taking them to this one (a little over two hours and 47 min from opening to ending notes, including intermission).

 Love happens - Alice Coote as Prince Charming and Joyce DiDonato as Cendrillon. Photo by Ken Howard; courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera.

Love happens - Alice Coote as Prince Charming and Joyce DiDonato as Cendrillon. Photo by Ken Howard; courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera.

7.     You can take your popcorn, candy, and soda into the theater, unlike opera houses.  There is a 30 min intermission during which you can adjust your body’s response to all the soda you drank during Act 1.

8.     You can wear what you usually wear to see a movie; nobody will care.

9.     Watching Met productions in cinemas is a different experience.  You will see a slightly different opera on screen than being there, mainly caused by close ups and view selections made by the video director.  This can expose bad acting, even juxtaposed with good singing, and the odd trifle: at Luisa Miller in cinemas I noticed that there was no poison draining from its bottle into Luisa’s cup. 

10.  One of the great advantages of Met operas in cinemas are the interviews conducted with members of the cast and/or the conductor, stage manager, stage or costume designers, etc. and views of the staging being assembled during the intermissions  At Luisa Miller, it was a huge treat to see the interviews with Placido Domingo, Sonya Yoncheva, and Piotr Beczala.  The live broadcasts go to over 70 countries and are seen by over 350,000 people.  Yoncheva gave a shout out to the watchers in Bulgaria and Beczala to those in Poland.

Reviews: The reviews for Cendrillon have been strong overall, especially praising its charm.  Critic James Jorden expressed the view that musically it might be the best thing done by the Met this year.  Click on the links below for professional reviews:

Woolfe            Jorden             Salazar