Reviewed by Jane Warwick
The Welsh National Opera provided another excellent evening’s entertainment to an appreciative audience in Southampton’s recently refurbished theatre on Thursday.
The story of Cinderella dates back to 1634 and the pantomime version is particularly well known. This includes a fairy godmother who turns a pumpkin into a golden coach whilst a lost glass slipper helps bring the two lovers together. Rossini’s opera version of the story, first staged in 1817, omits the supernatural element and the ‘role’ of Fairy Godmother is played by the prince’s tutor, Alidoro. Moreover, the glass slipper is replaced by two silver bracelets and the two stepsisters, Clorinda and Tisbe are manipulated by their father, Don Magnifico rather than Cinderella’s stepmother. Nevertheless, the story is still the same morality tale of a young, downtrodden stepsister who gets invited to a ball and wins the heart of the rich, handsome prince thus ensuring that goodness triumphs over pride, greed and vanity
The WNO production includes many aspects of the pantomime and is a visual delight. The costumes are opulent, extravagant and humorous and there are many moments of comic drama. In particular, the addition of six lovable mice, who provide continuity throughout the production, not only play the role of stage hands but provide much hilarity, acting as mice; scratching their ears, rolling on their backs and often mimicking the actions of the key characters.
All the main characters were excellently portrayed, and the singing was of a consistently high standard which did justice to Rossini’s signature style. Aoife Miskelly (Clorinda) and Heather Lowe (Tsibe) played the two scheming sisters and their duets and interplay were both entertaining and menacing, egged on by the impressive Fabio Capitanucci as their father. Wojtek Gierlach brought dignity and gravitas to the role of Prince Ramiro’s tutor, Alidoro, whilst Matteo Macchioni (Don Ramiro, the prince) and Giorgio Caoduro (Dandini) excelled in their interchangeable roles, with Dandini making the most of the time when he is playing the role of the prince. The Irish mezzo Tara Erraught was Angelina (Cinderella) and she played this lead role superbly doing full justice to the vocal requirements of the score and building to her show ending final aria.
Rossini’s score was very well executed by the orchestra ably conducted by Tomas Hanus and provided the musical accompaniment to the very demanding libretto sung in Italian. Fortunately, English surtitles provided an instant translation and so it was very easy to follow the action and understand the intricacies of the word play.
The Mayflower is an excellent venue and has just undergone a £7.5 million refurbishment. It is now resplendent in red and gold and has improved seating and better sight lines making it an even better venue than before. The staff are always friendly and the theatre is deservedly very popular. There is good parking and a good selection of restaurants within easy reach making it the ideal place for an enjoyable evening’s entertainment.
For other shows at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton or to book tickets visit www.mayflower.org.uk or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811