Monday, January 14, 2013

Seattle's Cinderella season lives on

You won't see this Cinderella story at the Clink (you wouldn't have, even if the Hawks had made it past the Falcons), but Seattle Opera is staging La Cenerentola, Gioacchino Rossinni's delightful retelling of the Cinderella story, this month at McCaw, complete with wacky costumes, wicked stepsisters and half a dozen supportive rats.

The bright and lively production is a travelling road show, originally built for Houston but "owned" by no fewer than four opera international companies. It's almost like watching a fill-in-the-singers cartoon, with a cast of relatively inexpensive rising stars plugged into the principal roles. As a result, the production values often outshine the voices.

Most fun are the six "rats" with shiny noses and long, languid tails. performed by a nest of locally recruited dancers under the direction of a Spanish actor and choreographer, Xevi Dorca.

A young Italian maestro, Giacomo Sagripanti, was responsible for the music's sprightly pace, which I wish had been even sprightlier, especially in the languid first act. That said, Sunday's Karin Mushegain as Cinderella embodied an appropriately modest and reticent "Venus of the Ashes" right up to her triumphant declaration, "Non più mesta," ("No more housework!") she proclaims, only to be undone by the production's twist: it was all in her head.

If the melody of Non più mesta sounds familiar, it well should: it's a transposition for soprano of "Cessa di più resistere" from Barber of Seville (performed here quite stunningly two seasons ago by Lawrence Brownlee). What a scamp, that Rossini, stealing his own music! What a thieving magpie!

Seattle Opera presents La Cenerentola, through January 26th at McCaw Hall. Tickets online (at and at the box office, 321 Mercer St., 206-389-7676.

Seattle Opera photo by Elise Bakketun