Cendrillon is Massenet’s beautiful operatic retelling of the fairy tale of Cinderella. We meet all our favorite characters: the horrible step-mother Madame de la Haltière, and step-sisters Noémie and Dorothée, Cendrillon’s kind-hearted father Pandolfe, the Fairy Godmother (La Fée), and, of course, Le Prince Charmant.
When Cendrillon is left behind, again, by her step-mother and step-sisters, as they go off to a ball with the Prince, La Fée hears her sadness, and wants to make her happy. She brings spirits and elves and instructs them to weave a dress out of star-silk, and color it with moonlight so that Cendrillon can also go to the ball. The finishing touch is, of course, the enchanted glass slipper, which will protect Cendrillon’s identity should she run into her family at the ball. There is only one rule, she must be back for midnight.
This well-known fairy tale is set to Massenet’s sparklingly magical score, which aside from the beautiful vocal writing, includes ballets and French court dances, processional marches for the Princesses, and lullabies for the sleeping Cendrillon and Prince.