Opera Hound previews Pauline Viardot's "Cendrillon" - New Moon Opera Co.
I tend to see a lot of operas, and that means that sometimes I see a particular opera more than once in a season. For example, I saw Mozart's Così fan tutte in three seperate productions this season (Transgressive Theater-Opera, Lyric Opera, and the Met in HD simulcast), and as it happens I'm seeing Cendrillon three times in the next two weekends. Well, sort of.
Cendrillon is the French equivalent of Cinderella. While the Met is doing an HD production of Cendrillon next Saturday, and North Park University is performing it next Sunday, those are both productions of Jules Massenet's well-known opera. New Moon Opera Company, on the other hand, is doing something different (as they are known to do). They will be performing Pauline Viardot's parlor version of Cendrillon this weekend. See their website for details and tickets.
New Moon's Executive Director Mallory Harding was kind enough to talk with me about the production. I have only been to one New Moon production (last fall's Offenbach double-bill of Bagatelle and Mesdames de la Halle) and it was a lot of fun. Imagine if your super-talented friends got together to throw a show for you; that's what the vibe of the performance was like. Lots of talented musicians having a lot of fun. Harding says "New Moon's main goal is to create new opera lovers. We try to choose pieces that even someone who hasn't been to an opera before can understand and enjoy. It's a group effort from everyone involved. Cast members are welcome to bring ideas to the staging, costuming, etc. and everyone helps each other with costumes, hair, and production."
Harding has long been a fan of Viardot (and French music in general) and discovered her Cendrillon in her research. "I thought it looked really interesting," she says, "and I liked how many roles there are for women. I listened to some versions on YouTube and I thought the music was so special. I also really liked that the original piece was written for piano instead of orchestra, since we planned to have piano accompaniment. Also, we like to involve kids in our production and present shows that are family friendly, so a Cinderella story seemed like a great fit as well." (A proud Harding also made sure to mention among the child choristers is Rebecca Lorenz, Harding's piano and voice student that very recently won the teen division of Skokie Idol!)
Viardot's music for the piece is described by Harding as "very international. Viardot was actually Spanish and as a child, she traveled with her family to London, New York, and Mexico. You can really hear the international influence in Cendrillon. I honestly can't even describe the music because it's so different, but many describe it as bel canto in style. One interesting part of the opera is a song the Fairy Godmother sings during the ball; It's actually Viardot's arrangement of a Chopin mazurka."
Cendrillon will be performed for three shows on April 20, 21, and 22 at Berry United Methodist Church in Lincoln Square. Tickets are available at the New Moon website or at the door. Also be sure to check out the New Moon Opera Podcast on iTunes and soundcloud to hear more about Cendrillon and to meet the performers.