10:20 AM 17th February 2017
Cinderella. Quirky. Creative And Charming
Sky Ingram as Clorinda, Wallis Giunta as Angelina, Henry Waddington as Don Magnifico, Sunnyboy Dladla as Prince Ramiro and Quirijn de Lang as Dandini with the Chorus of Opera North Photo by Alastair Muir
You probably know why Cinderella was dropped from her cricket team? (Because she ran away from the ball).
With more than a nod to its panto heritage, Opera North's production of La Cenerentola (The Cinder Girl or Cinderella) has just started its run.
Amy J. Payne as Tisbe, Henry Waddington as Don Magnifico and Sky Ingram as Clorinda Photo by Alastair Muir
If, like me, you assume fairy-stories are all sequin gowns and glitter balls, then think again. Each of the Opera North's season of three fairy-story inspired productions (previously Snow Maiden, Hansel and Gretel) has had some grit, and a little pathos.
Rossini's Cinderella continues in this vein - it's quirky, witty, and not quite as you might expect: our protagonist has no glass slipper or fairy godmother to light her way.
Sunnyboy Dladla as Prince Ramiro and Wallis Giunta as Angelina. Photo by Alastair Muir
But the word that ties the fairy trio together is 'charming'; Cinderella perhaps doubly so as it lays-on a dollop of wit for good measure.
Wallis Giunta (Cinderella) is a Canadian mezzo-soprano and actress who combines her fabulous voice with fine acting. She conveys all the fears and frustrations of her life of domestic servitude to great effect and I hope her knees are well insured as she is hurled to the ground more than enough times to make the point.
John Savournin as Alidoro Photo by Alastair Muir
Cinderella's putative father, Don Magnifico, was delightfully over-the-top and Quirijn de Lang deployed his lovely baritone as Dandini, the manservant to the Prince, and, like many of the cast, seemed to be having a splendid time.
With the stature and occasional silliness of a barely restrained John Cleese, Alidoro was an omnipresent, almost mystical matchmaker. Given gravitas by his fine bass-baritone voice, John Savourin was clearly a shoe-in for this part.
Sunnyboy Dladla as Prince Ramino was as lyrical as his rather wet part allowed him to be, but the two "ugly sisters" - bitchy, not ugly in this rendition - were simply marvellous.
Sky Ingram as Clorinda and 'torn from the chorus' Amy J. Payne as Tisbe were very, very watchable.
It was a particular treat to see the male chorus of Opera North in diverse and somewhat wacky outfits. Somebody in the back room has spent the last few months making these costumes and was probably giggling for much of that time. Well done, it was worth all the hard work.
Whilst Rossini's remake of Cinderella loses some of the magic of the traditional version, this production piles it back in spades and I thoroughly recommend a visit.
To find out more, visit the Grand in Leeds and see this charming production for yourself.