Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon is a retelling of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale, composed in an operetta style combining musical numbers and dialogues, and intended for salon style chamber performances, such as it received at its premier, in Viardot’s own salon in 1904.
Instead of a step-mother, this story has the foolish Baron de Pictordu, with his two vain daughters, Maguelone and Armelinde, that are both after the Prince. After an invitation to the palace for a grand ball arrives, Maguelone and Armelinde prepare for such a wonderful event. Marie, who they call ‘Cendrillon’ is left behind while everyone else attends the ball. Hearing her sad song, La Fée (the fairy godmother) appears and promises to make Cendrillon’s dreams come true: she will go to the ball. Meanwhile, the Prince and his good friend Count Barigoule swap places to test out the true natures of the potential brides. A mysterious stranger appears at the ball, and she and the Prince fall in love at first sight, but will he be able to find her again when she runs away at midnight?