Opera review: LA CENERENTOLA

The Israeli Opera Tel Aviv Opera House, March 21

(photo credit: YOSSI ZVAKER)
Of La Cenerentola, originally a naive, sentimental folktale, Rossini’s opera made a sophisticated family drama. Cecile Roussat and Jean Lubek’s direction and sets turned it into an entertainment of mildly amusing successive stage effects.
They belong to the type of directors and set designers who several decades ago followed the European trend of stage staircases, whether necessary or not, a revolving stage, whether necessary or not, objects floating through the air, whether necessary or not, a stage densely populated with pantomimists purposelessly wandering around, and a donkey that seemed to have strayed in from another opera.
The keenly anticipated “R”-rolling vocal ensemble in Act II, a masterpiece of Rossini’s musical humor, was rendered rather indifferently.
Outstanding among the singers was Miklos Sebastyen, in the role of Don Magnifico. His forcefully resounding dark bass persuasively radiated self-importance, caricatured the overbearing father figure, and displayed veritable comical talent. In the title role, Annalisa Stoppa’s warm, soft mezzo-soprano sounded appealing, but too mature and heavy for the young, frail girl Cenerentola. As Dandini, Christian Senn’s friendly baritone, still somewhat restrained in Act I, became convincingly humorous in Act II.
Conductor Daniel Cohen displayed authoritative command of the Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion and led it to a lively dramatic support of the action, with many fascinating instrumental soli.