Cinderella parades on the red carpet and the carriage is a red spider. Giorgio Barberio Corsetti reinvents Rossini’s masterpiece at the Teatro Massimo. Gabriele Ferro on the podium, starring Palermo-born Chiara Amarù, the debut is on 19 April. Painted scenery and chroma key for a high-tech staging.

Cinderella? She parades on the red carpet and the carriage is a red spider. The protagonist of Perrault’s fairy tale takes on a very personal character in the direction of Giorgio Barberio Corsetti, one of the most interesting protagonists of the contemporary scene, who reinterprets Rossini’s masterpiece in a surreal light in the new production of the opera that debuts at the Teatro Massimo on 19 April. Barberio Corsetti’s Cenerentola (staging in collaboration with the Teatro delle Muse in Ancona) is innovative first and foremost in its scenic realisation, entrusted to an extremely rich video system using the chroma key technique. But it is also innovative in the direction, which sets the opera in the 1960s and makes it a fairy tale suspended in a dreamlike dimension, where desires, dreams, illusions are projected on the screen and the characters are like puppets traversed by music.

On the podium is Gabriele Ferro, musical director of the Teatro Massimo. Don Ramiro, the prince, is René Barbera; Angelina, that is Cinderella, is Chiara Amarù; don Magnifico is Paolo Bordogna; the waiter Dandini, who pretends to be the prince, is Riccardo Novaro; Alidoro is Gianluca Margheri. Sets by Giorgio Barberio Corsetti and Massimo Troncanetti, costumes by Francesco Esposito, lighting designer Gianluca Cappelletti, assistant director Cecilia Ligorio, video conception and realisation Igor Renzetti, Lorenzo Bruno, Alessandra Solimene. Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Massimo, chorus master Pietro Monti, harpsichord master Steven Rizzo.

Cenerentola is the opera with which Gioachino Rossini’s (1792-1868) extraordinary comic production comes to an end, consisting of two other masterpieces: L’italiana in Algeri and Il barbiere di Siviglia. The opera in fact, like La gazza ladra immediately following, tends more towards the comic larmoyante, although there is no lack of farcical moments. In Cenerentola, Rossini brings a flurry of major innovations that concern not only the musical style, but above all the general conception of the drama, which takes the form of a realistic comedy. In fact, the composer decides to move away from the magical, fairy-tale dimension on which Perrault’s fable, from which the opera’s subject is taken, was based.The libretto, written by the Roman Jacopo Ferretti in just twenty-two days, is inspired by a successful opéra-comique from 1810: Nicolò Isouard’s Cendrillon with a libretto by Charles-Guillaume Étienne.

“I am very pleased,” says Superintendent Francesco Giambrone, “with this production that sees the theatre in a great creative and workshop ferment, for an opera of great tradition staged in a particularly innovative way. Giorgio Barberio Corsetti and Gabriele Ferro are creating a new, interesting, curious and stimulating vision of a masterpiece we all know: one working on the languages of the scenes, the other on musical performance practice. When a theatre offers its audience so many elements of curiosity, it fully performs its task as a place of cultural construction and vision.”

“The various techniques we have used in this show,” says the director, “are the fruit of research conducted by me in the first person and together with the Officine K group, producing shows but also trying to evolve a language of images within the shows. Behind this is my experience in Reggio Emilia and then in France, with Rossini’s La pietra del paragone and Offenbach’s La belle Hélène with a French video artist, Pierrick Sorin, and then the experience of Le streghe di Venezia. They are two different techniques that come together: on the one hand, we have the possibility of having the singers act within sets or, as in this case, drawings, which are juxtaposed through the chroma key technique; on the other hand, we have the possibility of ‘painting’ the sets with video projections, which are mapped and cover exactly points of the sets. The combination of these two techniques creates a dreamlike imaginary world parallel to the real, concrete world of the stage’.

Each character is a real, living creature: in place of the fairy is the wise Alidoro (bass); in place of the stepmother, Don Magnifico (bass), the equally ruthless and wicked stepfather; Dandini (bass), the nice waiter who helps the prince Don Ramiro (tenor) in his quest; Clorinda (soprano) and Thisbe (mezzo-soprano), the foolish and spoiled stepsisters; and finally Angelina (contralto), with a noble and kind soul, who lives as a servant to her stepfather and stepsisters, yet dreams of a better future.
It is up to the images projected onto the stage to project Cinderella’s gaze, her illusion, her other reality. “Cinderella is a modern girl, and we have chosen the modernity of the late 1960s,” explains Barberio Corsetti, “because it is an almost mythical modernity but one that is close to us and that we know well, we could say that it belongs to us. And it is a moment of revolution, the moment of the economic boom. Cinderella is captured by the world of images and appearances, and it is Alidoro who urges her to enter this world: it is he who, at the beginning, brings the billboards onto the stage that attract Cinderella’.

Thus, if the meeting between Angelina and the prince (a true love at first sight) is translated by Rossini into the enchanting suspension of the duet ‘Un soave non so che’, the video images show two hearts suddenly united by a tangle of veins. While, when Alidoro prepares Angelina for the party, he gives her not only clothes but a new body. ‘He remakes her all over, he is a plastic surgeon, he gives her the body she desires, that of a star,’ the director adds. While her stepfather, Don Magnifico, is a maniac who wanders around the stage in a gaudy double-breasted suit.

Cinderella presents an arduous and complex vocal, especially the characters of Ramiro and Angelina, two characters that come close to those of the composer’s great serious operas. Through the triumph of virtue and virtuosity, Rossini ingeniously anticipates the convention of the protagonist’s grand final aria, which will be typical in Bellini and Donizetti.