‘La Cenerentola’ at the Teatro Real: life is a dream … and sometimes it is a chore to wake up

“As we said yesterday” … This same feeling of Fray Luis de León in 1576 one felt when finally the Royal Theater was able to have a normal function (if one is) and with a capacity of the Madrid coliseum full to the flag, 100% that is already allowed in Madrid. Everything indicates that this time we do leave behind a very long year and a half of pandemic with all that it has brought us.

And what better way than to celebrate it than with a work like Cinderella, which speaks of overcoming, of aspiring to the highest from the lowest, of the fulfillment of dreams against all odds and of “sarà mia vendetta il lor perdono”, my revenge will be forgiveness … but not oblivion. To kick off the season, the Teatro Real has selected a sparkling co-production of Stefan Herheim for the Opera de Lyon and Oslo, relatively recent.

The Norwegian stage director is one of the strongest names in European scenery. Assistant of Götz Friedich, has in its history some of the most controversial but also most successful recent European productions: the fiery and tough ‘Rapture in the Seraglio’ by Mozart in Salzburg in 2008 was his, as well as some great Nuremberg Master Singers from Wagner at the same festival or the Parsifal of Bayreuth.

In Madrid we had the opportunity to enjoy his Salome from Strauss… and a little more. But Herheim returns with this production that has already been shot and greased and that is one of the best works of the record player. You can see the love and passion of the Norwegian for this title and the exhaustive knowledge of the work, which makes it a beautiful fairy tale in which there is not a second of doubt or lack of ideas.

The performance is full of references, winks, fast-paced scenes … From the very opening, in which a cleaner receives a storybook literally from heaven, thrown by God Rossini. That’s where Angelica’s dream starts and for the next almost three hours her development is full of ideas and an action-packed stage direction.

Perhaps the only downside that can be put to Herheim’s proposal is that he has opted more for the “Dramma” than for the “giocoso”

There is not a second that things are not happening. Herheim’s work is respectful of the score … or so we believe, until we reach the final seconds of the performance in which we suddenly witness a brutal turn of the approach devised by Jacobo Ferreti (librettist).

De Herheim is also the beautiful scenography, very rich in elements and, above all, extraordinarily supported by a series of fascinating visual proposals. In any case, the replacement suffers from a sometimes failed lighting that impoverishes some scenes, darker than they should and that turn off the exquisite and beautiful costumes, a delight, designed by Esther Bialas, in which the use of yellow stands out, a color forbidden in the theater but that the German uses without modesty for Dandini in conjunction with pieces of great beauty, especially the costumes of the male roles, much better treated and visually relevant.

Perhaps the only downside that can be put to Herheim’s proposal is that he has opted more for the “Dramma” than for the “giocoso” and in these two acts, despite the abundance of elements typical of a musical, with touches of cabaret and a lot of scenic bustle, one misses the “giocosa” part of Cenerentola and accuses an excess of “drama”. Although Herheim’s work is full of sympathetic solutions, the characters are less buffoonery. There are comic situations very well resolved, yes, but this opera lends itself to more madness that was never seen.

For Herheim, Angelina (Cenerentola) is not the poor groggy girl, pitiful and crushed by her circumstances but a woman empowered from the first moment who knows that she is not in her best situation and takes the opportunity to get ahead, overcome difficulties and ends taking power not only from her family, to which she makes it clear who is in charge, but also from her husband and therefore the kingdom.

In any case in Herheim the leading role does not fall on the young maid. It is not the ‘Cenerentola’ who occupies the mind of the regista but this production is an infinite tribute to Rossini. It is Rossini who plays constantly throughout the performance, already as a Hebrew God, transformed into Don Magnífico or cloned in each and every one of the members of the choir.

Great roster of voices. The level is brilliant in the first cast and they are almost all great in their roles

The great Rossini occupies everything and manages everything, either directly with an inspired pen that he already uses to compose and to direct the characters, or through Alidoro, who is the Pope, the High Priest who convinces and transforms Angelina to stop being Cenerentola and become queen.

But in Herheim there is no Rossini, there are many and they all turn the wheel of luck with a certain trick, with more or less magic, so that Angelina can achieve success … or not. Herheim is undoubtedly primarily responsible for the success of the show. Bravo for him.

Premiere of 'La Cenerentola' at the Teatro Real.

Premiere of ‘La Cenerentola’ at the Teatro Real.


Riccardo Frizza arrives again at the moat of the Teatro Real as the brand-new winner of the Ópera XXI Award for the best musical director that he received just a few days ago at the Teatro de la Zarzuela for the performances of Lucia of Lammermoor which he directed at ABAO in 2019.

Frizza, despite living in Spain, has not lavished on the Royal Theater as much as we would like. In 2007 he directed the Tancredi of Rossini and even these functions of Cinderella had not returned. In these 14 years, Frizza has established himself as one of the best international conductors, especially in the bel canto period – he is a highly reputed interpreter of Donizetti, being the musical director of the Donizetti Festival in Bergamo- and a great Verdi teacher.

A regular at the great world venues (MET, ROH, Scala…), he was slow to arrive but he did it through the front door: his direction of this title was inspired, full of verve and a luminous reading of the score. The teacher did not hesitate to be part of the scene, including a cameo or questioning the singers from the pit giving them a reply.

Frizza is a consummate concertmaster, a lover of voices that he takes great care of. This Cenerentola was not only bright and audacious on stage but also from the pit and the Brescian knew how to perform with great talent but chose to approach this Cenerentola from its more belcantist and perhaps less Rossinian side.

The Teatro Real dedicates the performances of ‘La Cenerentola’ to Teresa Berganza. And to one it seems a very deserved tribute. Berganza is the best Cenerentola

Great roster of voices. The level is brilliant in the first cast and they are almost all great in their roles. Without a doubt the great star of the night is the French Karine Deshayes, a bright, talented and overwhelming mezzo-soprano with an iron -sometimes excessive- control of her voice that, however, when she lets her fly in some passages of the show but especially in her great scene I was born in a hurry… He shines with mastery: wide voice, precious treble and intelligence for coloratura, which he solved with great technique.

However, his Angelica suffers in any case from being less funny, funny and witty. Beside him, Don Ramiro from Dimitri Korchak It is delicious, it sings with great pleasure, it has a virile and harmonic color and it comes out excellently from its great moment, To find it II iuro, aria of great difficulty but that if done well, as the Russian tenor solved it, it is very lucid.

Spectacular the Alidoro of Roberto Taglivavini, a bass that we have the immense luck of having with some frequency in Madrid. He has it all: a magnificent voice color, style, grandeur, elegance in singing and great power that makes him fill the space.

A refined belcantista, he gives Alidoro the solemnity and craftsmanship that the character requires. He is a fabulous singer. Great and very embedded in voice and interpretation both Florian Sempey (Dandini) como Renato Girolami (Mr. Magnificent). And very good so much Rocio Perez as Clorinda and Carol garcia like Thisbe, very intoned on stage and great vocally.

The Royal Theater dedicates the performances of ‘La Cenerentola’ to Teresa Berganza. And to one it seems a wonderful and well deserved tribute. Berganza is the best Cenerentola, the biggest. Her interpretation of the character has marked all the Angelicans who have come after.

Both in his studio recording with Abbado As in the various pirated versions that were recorded live, Berganza recreated this character until his version became academic. Then the Valentini-Terrani, the Raft, Bartoli O By Donato. But none, despite their excellent interpreters of this role, has managed to fill Berganza’s shoes.



Artistic team:

Musical Director: Riccardo Frizza

Stage Director: Stefan Herheim


Don Ramiro: Dmitry Korchak

Dandini: Florian Sempey

Mr. Magnificent: Renato Girolami

Clorinda: Rocío Pérez

Thisbe: Carol García

Angelina: Karine Deshayes

Alidoro: Roberto Tagliavini


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