music

Opera at Rutgers presents Jules Massenet’s "Cendrillon" ("Cinderella") Jan. 27 to Feb. 5

Start shopping for a killer pair of glass slippers: You’ve got a ball to attend. Cinderella and Prince Charming are coming to Rutgers Friday, January 27 through Sunday, February 5, 2012, in a fantastical production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cendrillon

Producer Pamela Gilmore calls the production “very frothy. It’s a fairy tale; we play into that. There’s nothing terribly realistic about this show.” The Rutgers run of Cendrillon marks the centennial of Massenet’s death.

Gilmore says she believes that the classic fairy tale, in which a young girl is bullied by her resentful stepmother and stepsisters, will resonate with 21st-century audiences. She says the opera version of the story highlights a father’s guilt over allowing his beloved daughter, Lucette (Cinderella), to be treated as a servant in her own home.  

“Fairy tales always have something relevant to tell us about relationships,” Gilmore points out. If you think about it, she says with a laugh, “This is about the dissolution of the nuclear family.”

The rarely staged opera features a lush score, Gilmore says, with hints of ethereal music to represent the beloved Fairy Godmother and plenty of humor to support the juicy role of the evil stepmother.

In the Opera at Rutgers production, the Prince Charming role is played by a female “dark soprano,” known as a soprano falcone, a casting choice that Gilmore says was Massenet’s preference but is rarely seen these days.

“He wanted to create an atmosphere of fantasy, and having the higher voice for Prince Charming prevents the roles from becoming sexualized,” says Gilmore, who adds that the opera is suitable for children. “It’s a way of keeping it childish rather than giving it a grown-up identity. It’s non-threatening.”

Cendrillon runs 7:30 p.m. Fridays, January 27 and February 3, and 2 p.m. Sundays, January 29 and February 5, 2012, at Nicholas Music Center, in the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George St. at Ryders Lane, on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. Tickets are $25 for the general public, $20 for Rutgers alumni, employees and senior citizens, $15 for students with valid I.D. For more information about any Mason Gross event, visit www.masongross.rutgers.edu, or call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 732-932-7511.

Meanwhile, for those who want to celebrate: Consider feasting on French cuisine at the annual Opera Dinner, set for Friday, January 27, 2012, and catch a performance of Cendrillon (Cinderella) afterward. Tickets for the dinner/performance package are $70 to $80. The sit-down dinner is set for 5 p.m. at the Continuing Studies Conference Center, 178 Ryders Lane; the 7:30 p.m. performance is at Nicholas Music Center, just across the road at 85 George St., on Douglass Campus. The deadline for ordering Opera Dinner tickets is at noon Friday, January 13. Call 732-932-7511 for tickets. Your pumpkin awaits.

Media inquiries: Laurie Granieri, 848-932-5239