La Cenerentola Synopsis

Rossini's Operatic Take on Cinderella

Opera La Cenerentola at Seville
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Gioachino Rossini's take on the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, his opera, La Cenerentola, is considered to be one of his greatest operatic achievements. The ​opera premiered on January 25, 1817, at the Teatro Valle in Rome, Italy and is set in late 18th century Italy.

La Cenerentola, ACT I

Inside the defunct mansion of Don Magnifico, Angelina (Cenerentola, aka Cinderella) is busy working as the family's maid, while her stepsisters, Clorinda and Tisby, are trying on dresses and jewelry. As she cleans, Angelina sings a song about a King who fell in love with and later married, a woman of the common class. When a beggar shows up at their door, Clorinda and Tisby try and send him away, but Angelina graciously offers him a cup of coffee and bread to eat. While the beggar is eating, courtiers arrive announcing that Prince Ramiro will soon stop by in an effort to seek out the most beautiful woman in all the land to be his bride. The girls are all aflutter, and soon the prince arrives disguised as his own valet in order to observe the women in their natural state. He is immediately taken aback by Angelina's beauty, and she his. They exchange longing glances until the stepsisters call her away. Ramiro, still in disguise, announces the entrance of the prince. His real valet, Dandini, arrives dressed as the prince. The girls swoon over his presence. After inviting them to the ball, Don Magnifico forbids Angelina from attending. Before leaving, Ramiro takes note how poorly Angelina is treated by her family. The beggar returns to the house and asks Don Magnifico for his third daughter, Angelina. Magnifico insists his third daughter is dead, then leaves with Dandini and his two daughters. Alone in the house, the beggar calls out to Angelina. After greeting again, he reveals to her that his name is Alidoro and he serves as the Prince's tutor. He asks her to the ball and promises her protection, then proceeds to tell her that the heavens will reward her greatly for her pure and kind heart. She accepts his invitation and prepares for the ball.

Once Dandini, Magnifico, Clorinda, and Tisby arrive at the prince's palace, Dandini gives Magnifico a tour of the wine cellar in an effort to get him drunk. Dandini manages to distance himself from the family and takes a moment to meet with Ramiro. Ramiro is confused after Dandini tells him that the two sisters are practically stupid because Alidoro insisted that one of Magnifico's daughters was extremely kind and genuine. Their conversation is cut short when the two sisters enter the room. Dandini offers Ramiro to serve as their escort, but they reject the offer, still unaware that Ramiro is the real prince. Alidoro announces the arrival of a mysterious guest, a veiled Angelina. When she removes her veil, nobody recognizes her. Her stepfamily eerily feels they know her as if in a past life, but they cannot make the connection. This gives them an uneasy feeling.

La Cenerentola, ACT 2

Pacing in a room within the prince's palace, Don Magnifico feels threatened by the arrival of the mysterious woman. He reminds his daughters that when either of them marries the prince and takes the throne, they mustn't forget about his importance. Magnifico leaves with his two daughters, and soon, Ramiro enters while daydreaming about the lovely woman and her resemblance to the woman he met earlier in the day. When he hears Dandini approaching with Angelina, he hides. Dandini begins to court her and asks her to marry him, but she gracefully declines. She tells him that she is in love with his valet. All of a sudden Ramiro comes out of hiding. She hands him one of her matching bracelets and tells him that if he really loves her, he will find her. After she leaves, Ramiro calls his men into the room and debriefs them. Once the men are in accordance with his wishes, he orders them to find the woman with the matching bracelet.

Meanwhile, Don Magnifico approaches Dandini and commands him to choose between his two daughters, still under the impression that Dandini is the prince. Dandini confesses his true identity as the prince's valet, but Don Magnifico doesn't believe him. When Magnifico becomes disgruntled, Dandini is quick to kick him out of the palace.

Back in Don Magnifico's mansion, Angelina, dressed in her rags, is cleaning as usual and tending the fire. Don Magnifico and his two daughters arrive from the ball in foul moods, and they order Angelina to prepare their supper. Angelina follows her orders and begins cooking as a storm rages outside. After dinner, Aldorino arrives seeking shelter when the prince's carriage is overturned in the storm. Angelina quickly prepares a seat for the prince. When he sits down, they instantly recognize each another. Ramiro takes out the bracelet she gave him before and he compares it to the one she is wearing. Realizing he has found his true love, the two happily embrace. Expectedly, Don Magnifico, Clorinda, and Tisby protest angrily. Ramiro rebukes them and begins to decree a punishment. Angelina begs him to have mercy on her family, and he obliges. The two lovers depart and Aldorino couldn't be happier with the turn of events.

Within the palace and dressed as a princess, Angelina is approached by Magnifico begging for her favor. She tells him that she only wishes to be recognized as one of his true daughters. He agrees to her wishes and the two embrace. Angelina asks the prince to forgive her family. Once forgiven, she tells them that her days serving as their maid are over.

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