Gioachino Rossini’s touching 1817 comic opera, La Cenerentola, retells the popular Cinderella fairy tale with a few wrinkles: The glass slipper is replaced with a bracelet, the wicked stepmother is, instead, a stepfather named Don Magnifico, the Fairy Godmother is replaced by the philosopher, Alidoro, and there is no magic pumpkin.
Questo e un nodo avviluppato
One of the opera’s most dramatic moments occurs in the second (and final) act when the Prince (Don Ramiro) recognizes the bracelet on Cenerentola’s right arm, revealing her identity to everyone. Rossini’s sextet, Questo e un nodo avviluppato (“This is a tangled knot”) captures the collective shock with an emphasis on trembling consonants (grr, trr, rr). As the scene continues, Magnifico and his daughters, Clorinda and Tisbe, refuse to accept defeat, angering the Prince. It is Cenerentola who pleads with the Prince to forgive her family.
This 1971 recording features Claudio Abbado and the London Symphony Orchestra with Luigi Alva (Don Ramiro), Teresa Berganza (Cenerentola), Margherita Guglielmi (Clorinda), Laura Zannini (Tisbe), Renato Capecchi (Dandini), and Paolo Montarsolo (Don Magnifico):
Non più mesta
La Cenerentola concludes with the glittering aria, Non più mesta (“No longer sad”). Cenerentola and the Prince celebrate their wedding at the palace, and the family is joyfully united. All are moved by Cenerentola’s ability to forgive her abusive stepfather and stepsisters. Rossini reserves the opera’s most spectacularly virtuosic tour-de-force for these final moments, highlighting the blossoming of Cenerentola as a character.
Here is Cecilia Bartoli’s landmark 1997 Metropolitan Opera performance:
- Rossini: La Cenerentola, Claudio Abbado, London Symphony Orchestra, Scottish National Opera Chorus, Luigi Alva, Teresa Berganza, Margherita Guglielmi, Laura Zannini, Renato Capecchi, and Paolo Montarsolo Amazon
- Rossini: La Cenerentola, Michele Pertusi, Christoph Eschenbach, Cecilia Bartoli, Enzo Dara, Alessandro Corbelli, Raúl Giménez, Fabio Sparvoli Amazon
Featured Image: “La Cenerentola” with Cecilia Bartoli in Zürich in 2019