Unfortunately, Weisman's score does not always meet the standard that Cote sets. The issue is that Weisman's music is often relatively one-note if something of little dramatic import is going on.
Sitting in the audience, I had the feeling I was part of a long standing tradition, one that dates back to 1858 when the opera was first performed at Covent Garden.
There was literally something for everyone who enjoys culture. Though many elements tied together, in the end it had the same effect as a large, complex mosaic - no surprise since it was the result of a collaboration between many: Mr. Costanzo conceived the project in conjunction with the artistic directors of Visionaire and National Sawdust, which is known for its interdisciplinary productions.
Menotti holds an unusual niche in musical history – he's one of the rare post-Puccini composers who continued in the romantic or verismo style while the opera world became mostly atonal and minimalist. He is also one of only a handful of composers – like Wagner – who wrote his own libretti.
Amahl's widowed mother, played by soprano Megan Miceli, was another bright star of this production. Like Pfeifer, Miceli's portrayal was honest and nuanced, her round, vibrant tone filling the performance space with ease.
The main story is about the lost son of a murdered king, fighting against the weak offspring of the usurper for love and his right to the throne, successfully winning both. That's it, literally. And this perfectly illustrates why a lot of similar operas are gathering dust on the shelves of libraries. A pity, since sometimes the musical material is real gold.
Richard A. Raub must be commended for his work with both the cast and the orchestra. While intonation was, at times a noticeable issue, the ensemble gracefully navigated from swelling passage to swelling passage. Raub also maintained an energetic momentum through the work. Raub kept the high level of romanticism without ever losing any precision.
At this point, Alice Coote is virtually synonymous with this production of Cendrillon, having sung the role of Prince Charming in London, Barcelona, and New York in recent seasons. She brings a beautiful, rich tone and an affable touch to Prince Charming's moping. Stagg and Coote's duets are especially rapturous, with their beautifully-matched instruments making Act III's long-anticipated reunion all the more sublime.
We open to a massive set of stairs as wide as the stage. Perched atop is a lone figure in garishly flamboyant toreador garb. This is our narrator and we understand her to be Carmen, or at least, a version of her. She is an omniscient and timeless figure, as if speaking to us from beyond the grave to tell her story.
An audience of kids also tests the temperament of the folks onstage. *WOW Factor* is cast with current and past members of the COC Ensemble Studio, and it was specifically the new members who impressed with their versatility. I had seen bass-baritone Joel Allison in the COC's stark production of Eugene Onegin, and it was a hoot to see him turn a full 180 as the buffo-for-kids Mr. Magnifico.