Joyce DiDonato, Eglise Gutiérrez, Alice Coote, Ewa Podies, Jean-Phillippe Lafont and the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House conducted by Bertrand de Billy - July 2011
"One of my most prized opera recordings is a mid-70s CBS set of CENDRILLON with the title role sung to absolute perfection by Frederica von Stade, who embodied everything the role Cinderella requires. Von Stade's signature virtue of charm makes her an ideal Lucette and vocally the role matched very distinctive voice with its beautiful colors, wide range, and elegant French diction. Ruth Welting was another reason for its success. Her La Fee was pure spun honey and she sat on its extreme top range with confidence and musical panache. The rest of the cast, with one glaring exception was ideal. But someone made the fatal mistake of casting a tenor in the role of of the Prince. Gedda sings it as well as can be expected, but it's all wrong. It's a trouser role for a mezzo and his tenor sounds completely out of sorts in this substitution.
More than thirty years later comes this delightful DVD from a Laurent Pelly production at Covent Garden, and it rightfully restores the Prince to the mezzo soprano, and what a mezzo she is. Alice Coote is a perfect prince, besotted by his Cendrillon and singing with power and finesse. The wonderful duets Massenet assigned to the lovers are simply gorgeous here. The supporting cast is excellent with Eglisse Gutierrez a wonderfully worldly La Fee and singing with superb control, the fearsomely funny Eva Podles as the imperious and pompous step mother. My only caveat is Jean-Philippe Lafont's wobbly, unfocused singing, which undermined the tenderness in his one big scene with Cendrillon.
At the center of this confection is Joyce di Donato. I never thought anyone could match von Stade in the part. Ms. DiDonato's is fully her equal with softly lofted pianissimi, a rich tonal pallette, and equally elegant French. Her lower range is a bit more earthy than von Stade's --not a complaint--a compliment in the best sense. Bertrand de Billy's supple conducting is the icing on the cake.
This is superb compliment to the CBS recording and no serious collector should be without both!"
"Eyes on Opera" is an Orange County cultural organization dedicated to the advancement of opera through recorded and live solo performances, group discussions, educational outreach and field trips. Membership is free with donations gratefully accepted to cover expenses. Regular meetings and presentations are scheduled for the third Saturday of each month at the Seymour Senior Center in Chapel Hill.
The group was founded in January, 2007 by my wife, Victoria Windler, who passed away after a long battle with cancer in April of 2009. Over the years, she collected more than 500 opera CDs and DVDs that line our walls and bend our bookshelves! Her love of life and opera was a beacon to all who knew her! Enjoy one of Vicky's all time favorites that she loved to sing along with: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6nESuuLYss&feature=pl...
This group is continuing as a living memorial to Vicky's passion for opera and life.
The Meetup originally met at our house outside of Chapel Hill which it quickly outgrew and now gathers monthly in the Orange County Seymour Senior Center's new auditorium to enjoy a DVD presentation of a major opera production with other opera lovers. We thank the staff of the center for their continued support.
We meet once a month on the 3rd Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.Feel free to bring a brown bag lunch to supplement the coffee, cold drinks and snacks we provide. We take a 20 minute break at the middle of the opera. And if you'd like to bring some fresh baked cookies or cakes, you will make many new friends!
All residents (and friends) of Orange County are welcome to the monthly presentations and are encouraged to add their comments and insights at the breaks and conclusion. As Vicky said..."(this group) would be accessible to both beginners who would want to learn more about opera and "fanatics".