I've just finished watching La Monnaie's staging of Massenet's Cendrillon. I've enjoyed it tremendously, more for the production and singing than for the music itself. Though I have to say it was my first time listening to an opera by Massenet, and sometimes, you need to familiarise yourself with a piece to fully appreciate it. The music has plenty of humour in it, just like Rossini's La Cenerentola, which I saw in Dublin a good few years ago. I felt Massenet's music a bit disjointed for my liking, though, despite some lovely pieces and tunes. Maybe I'm just not used to French opera.
The staging, sets, lighting, costumes, choreography, the whole production was beautifully done - modern and abstract, but in keeping with the spirit of the story - it's a fairytale after all, and there is a dreamlike quality that permeates right through. But it's also comical, a perfect one to introduce children to opera, maybe. Maybe not, after all. How do you explain to a 7-year-old that the Prince Charming is really a boy, although he sounds like a girl? (For those of you who like a Joey moment, yes, there is a kiss at the end!)
I loved the singers - gorgeous voices and lovely acting - Cendrillon and Le Prince Charmant are suitably romantic, while the rest of the cast carries the comic aspects of the story with gusto - the two ugly sisters were very funny, as was the bad stepmother, in an Alice-in-Wonderland kind of way!
Overall, well worth spending two and a half hours watching this - it's available for free on La Monnaie's website for a couple of weeks (until 19 January).