October 28, 2022

CIM's new “Cinderella” fits music lovers like a magical glass slipper

Conductor Harry Davidson leads CIM Opera Theater students in a rehearsal of Massenet's "Cendrillon"
Conductor Harry Davidson leads CIM Opera Theater students in a rehearsal of Massenet's "Cendrillon"

Two demographics should take special interest in the new production of Cendrillon (Cinderella) by CIM Opera Theater: Newcomers to opera and those in need of a pleasant distraction. 

In other words, everyone.  

If you’re new to opera, Jules Massenet’s rarely performed take on the classic fairy tale is the ideal introduction. At the same time, with its lush music and simple, cheerful story, Cendrillon is the magical antidote to ordinary life, for listeners of all levels.  

“It’s pure escapism,” said Cara Consilvio, the CIM guest artist directing Cendrillon. “It’s a place where, for two-and-a-half hours, you don’t have to think about anything. You can just come and have an enjoyable experience. There’s a reason this story is timeless.” 

CIM will give two performances of Cendrillon, both in Kulas Hall: 7:30pm Friday, November 11 and 3pm Sunday, November 13. Tickets, $10-$20, are available at cim.edu/fallopera. Veterans and active service members can enjoy free admission to both performances, in honor of Veterans Day. To request tickets, call 216.795.3211. Limit two per household. Opera at CIM is supported by the John P. Murphy Foundation.   

Lighthearted amusement may be the objective, but this Cendrillon, sung in the original French and featuring the CIM Orchestra conducted by Harry Davidson, is not without substance.  

Penned in 1899, it’s both the perfect first full production since the pandemic and the perfect work for student sopranos Mallory Bogle and Lisl Wangermann to put their vocal and dramatic skills to the test.  

Sharing the title role, they aspire to transform Cinderella in a new way: from a passive, idealized character into a figure they can understand and admire. Their Cinderella is no leaf on the wind. She chooses and brings about her own fate.  

At their side in lead roles will be mezzo-soprano Carlyle Quinn as Madame de la Haltière; tenor Yiran Xing as Prince Charming; baritone Joseph Breslau as Pandolfe; and sopranos Catherina Carrington and Ella Sobkowicz sharing the role of the Fairy.  

“She has a lot of hidden strengths,” Bogle said of Cinderella. “She’s kind, but that doesn’t make her weak.” 

“It’s nice to take on what could be a one-dimensional character and flesh it out,” added Wangermann. “It’s been fun to develop.” 

That’s a sentiment echoed by Consilvio, an award-winning director of opera as well as dance, theater and film. She, too, sought to develop Cendrillon into something more relatable, working with costume designer Inda Blatch-Geib and set designer Dave Brooks to evoke a timeless but stratified society in which the humble Cinderella stands apart from her wealthy stepsisters. Video will be used to convey magical effects. 

“It’s a glamorous, over-the-top world,” Consilvio said of her production. “The goal was to create a place that doesn’t feel like the past, where Cinderella and the Prince are outsiders.”  

The past is something everyone involved with Cendrillon is looking to move beyond. Consilvio and her singers alike said they’re looking forward to mounting and participating in their first fully staged, live production since the pandemic began – especially of a work as charming as Cendrillon.  

“It’s so nice to make an opera together in person again,” Consilvio said. “It’s really great to be able to hear the full potential of all the forces we have.”