Cinderella Revisited: Rossini's La Cenerentola In La Cenerentola, Rossini's take on the classic story of Cinderella, the title character overcomes her dysfunctional family with an admirable combination of courage and tolerance. Joyce DiDonato stars in the tile role in a production from Houston Grand Opera.

Cinderella Revisited: Rossini's La Cenerentola

From Houston Grand Opera

An Audio Introduction to the Opera

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She's a fairytale heroine who has had many different names, including Cendrillon, Cenerentola, Ashenputtel — and Cinderella. Whatever she's called, almost everyone knows her story. She's the innocent girl, abused by her dangerously dysfunctional family, who winds up marrying a handsome prince.

THE HIT SINGLE

In the opera's final scene, Prince Ramiro allows Cinderella to decide the fate of her abusive family. She forgives them, then sings the spectacular aria 'Non piu mesta' — 'No longer sad' — with the chorus joining in to praise her generosity. In this recording, the aria is sung by mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli.

'Non piu mesta'

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Joyce DiDonato stars as Cinderella, with Lawrence Brownlee as her Prince Charming, in Houston Grand Opera's fanciful production of La Cenerentola. Brett Coomer/Houston Grand Opera hide caption

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Brett Coomer/Houston Grand Opera

Joyce DiDonato stars as Cinderella, with Lawrence Brownlee as her Prince Charming, in Houston Grand Opera's fanciful production of La Cenerentola.

Brett Coomer/Houston Grand Opera

The version of the story we know best today originated with French writer Charles Perrault, who published a story called "Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper" in 1697. The Brothers Grimm wrote their version in 1812, and the electronic age produced the animated film by Disney, in 1950.

Those of a certain age may remember Disney's movie from childhood matinees at the local theater. What we may not remember is that our parents, sitting alongside, were having just as much fun as the kids. That's because, along with its innocent charm, the story also has a healthy dose of adult passions and foibles.

So it's not surprising that it was Gioachino Rossini, a master of bubbly comedies with poignant moments scattered among the laughs, who composed the most popular operatic take on Cinderella — La Cenerentola. It's one of Rossini's funniest operas, but with a serious side to remind us that the happy ending to Cinderella's story wasn't just a gift from some benevolent fairy. On her journey from servant's quarters to a princess' throne, she faces some real dangers. In overcoming them, she displays a gentle and tolerant spirit, some profoundly adult insights — and the pluck and courage to defy everyone who stands in her way.

On World of Opera, host Lisa Simeone presents a Houston Grand Opera production of La Cenerentola, featuring a stunning performance by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in the title role, with tenor Lawrence Brownlee as her Prince Charming.

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