Cinderella

Alma Deutscher

From Rossini’s La Cenerentola to Massenet’s Cendrillon, the Cinderella story has enjoyed a successful operatic life. 

The Opera

CINDERELLA
Opera in four acts
Arrangement for Ensemble by Giuseppe Montesano

Sung in English with surtitles

First performance: Staatsoper, Vienna, 2016


Other composers, including Nicholas Isouard and Pauline Viardot, have made their versions too. But it is safe to say that none was as young as Alma Deutscher, who was only eight when she started work on her opera in 2013. Completing the full-length opera by the age of 11, Deutscher surely qualifies for the ‘prodigy’ tag that is normally reserved for composers of the past.

Deutscher’s version of the famous fairy tale involves modifications of the plot, now revolving around music. But equally, her treatment of music has something of an enchanting child’s play about it. She sets it in an opera house inhabited by a crowd of creative people — Cinderella herself being a talented composer consigned to the drudgery of being a copyist. The Ugly Sisters — less talented, of course — are a couple of would-be divas. The Prince is a poet who is mocked at court for his artistic leanings, and after her midnight flight from the palace he seeks her out using not a slipper but one of her melodies as the identifying proof. They find each other ‘like lyrics find melody’. Even at such a young age, Deutscher has felt the need to defend her love of beautiful melody. ‘If the world is so ugly,’ she has said, ‘then what’s the point of making it even uglier with ugly music?’

Following an early try-out in Israel, Deutscher’s Cinderella received its premiere in Vienna in December 2016, under the patronage of conductor Zubin Mehta, no less. The composer took part, presenting herself first as a violin virtuoso (Cinderella’s alter ego) and then accompanying from the piano. A year later, the work had its first American performance at Opera San José (a production also released on DVD by Sony).

Cinderella is Deutscher’s second opera (the first was a short work, The Sweeper of Dreams), and her catalogue, also including a piano concerto and violin concerto, already covers many genres. She is a name to watch — why not watch her in Wexford?


The Plot

Once upon a time, there was an opera company … Unfortunately, it is run by Cinderella’s evil Stepmother, and dominated by Griselda and Zibaldona, two talentless would-be divas. Their stepsister Cinderella is not allowed to perform, but because she is a gifted composer she is put to hard work as a music copyist. Cinderella is captivated by a poem she discovers and sets it to music — only to have her tune, though not the poem, stolen by Grisleda and Zibaldona and performed at a singing competition. Eventually, at a ball, the Prince gets to hear Cinderella herself sing it and recognises the poem as his own. When she flees at midnight there is only one thing for him to do: he searches for her and — ‘like lyrics find a melody’ — they are united.

Creative Team

Conductor
Andrew Synnott

Andrew was the Artist-in-Residence at WFO in 2020/21. In 2017, his opera The Dubliners was premiered at WFO and he was nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award for the Best Opera. In 2019 his opera La cucina was performed before Rossini's Adina. WFO then commissioned his chamber opera What Happened to Lucrece. He is Chorus Master at WFO and the conductor of Cinderella.

Director
Davide Gasparro

Actor and director, Davide graduated in Theatre History and from Piccolo Teatro of Milan school under the guidance of Luca Ronconi. Since then, he has collaborated with the Piccolo Teatro of Milan as an actor, assistant director and director working with Luca Ronconi, Damiano Michieletto, Rosetta Cucchi, Carmelo Rifici, Francesco Aliverta amongst others.

Set Designer
Eleonora Rossi

She graduated at Brera Arts Academy-Milan. After an internship at Teatro Real Opera House-Madrid, she gained a specialization degree in Set Decoration and Costume Design at Teatro alla Scala Opera House Academy where she later taught Costume Decoration Techniques. Her professional experience ranges from theatre to opera and ballet.

Costume Designer
Frances White

Frances's first experience of theatre was as a volunteer at WFO straight from school. She went on to be trained at Wimbledon College of Art, studying costume. She worked in the London West End and The Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican. Most recently she has been working for the Blackwater Opera Festival in Lismore, Irish National Opera and Wexford Festival Opera.

Lighting Designer
Daisy Long

Daisy is a lighting designer for theatre, opera, concert and dance. Originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts, she now lives in New York City. Her credits include: The Shed, Keen Company, BAM, Atlantic, The Barrow Group Primary Stages, LaMaMa, NYU.

Cast

Cinderella
Megan O’Neill

She is a soprano from Killarney, County Kerry. She obtained her master’s in music performance degree at the Royal Irish Academy
of Music, studying with Professor Mary Brennan and repetiteur Andrew Synnott. Megan graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree from Maynooth University with First Class Honours. She is currently a member of The Wexford Factory

Stepmother
Ami Hewitt

Ami is from Dublin. She is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and TU Dublin Conservatoire, where she attained her BmusEd degree majoring in vocal performance. She graduated with distinction from a masters degree in Voice and Opera at Conservatorium Maastricht. She is a current member of The Wexford Factory.

Stepmother
Corina Ignat

Corina attended the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. Her studies continue through RIAM’s Masters in Music Performance programme. She collaborates with Irish National Opera on a wide array of productions and is currently a member of The Wexford Factory.

Griselda
Hannah O’Brien

Hannah is currently studying with Elizabeth Ritchie, having completed her Masters and BA in The Royal Irish Academy of Music. She performed the premier of Michael Holohan’s song cycle The Hills are crying and she will be performing a leading role of Polly in a film adaptation of Kevin O’Connel’s Dreamcatchr. She is currently a member of The Wexford Factory.

Griselda
Leah Redmond

Kildare soprano Leah graduated with a first class honours degree from the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, and is now in the Masters programme at the Royal College of Music in London. A keen recital artist, in March 2020 she premiered the Evangelina Rigaki piece If Words are Water in a series of concerts in New YorK. She is currently a member of The Wexford Factory.

Zibaldona
Emily Hogarty

Based in Dublin, she graduated from the TU Dublin Conservatoire in conjunction with Trinity College Dublin with a first-class honours degree in Music Education (BMusEd). Emily has been a soloist with Trinity Orchestra since 2017 and she will be performing Gershwin’s My Man’s Gone Now and Mozart’s Smanie Implacabili in the Spring concert. She is a current member of The Wexford Factory.

Zibaldona
Sarah Luttrell

Sarah is an honours graduate of the TU Dublin Conservatoire and
is currently studying for her master of music degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where she is the recipient of the RCS Trust Postgraduate Scholarship. Sarah has performed with Irish National Opera, Lyric Opera, Blackwater Valley Opera Festival and Northern Ireland Opera. She is currently a member of The Wexford Factory.

Prince
Michael Bell

Michael currently studies at the Royal College of Music having previously held a choral scholarship at St. John’s College, Cambridge. He has a wide concert repertoire and has evangelised Bach’s St. John Passion and Christmas Oratorio. His upcoming engagements include Bach, the Witch/Hänsel und Gretel (Royal College of Music). He is a member of the 2022 Wexford Factory.

Prince
Richard Shaffrey

Richard studied at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland MMus Opera Course. He performed Ferrando/Così fan tutte; Lechmere/ Owen Wingrave; Alfred/Die Fledermaus. He has featured at the WFO where he was a PWC Young Artist, performing in La fanciulla del West, in Il Bravo and in 2021 Festival, Ein Wintermärchen. He is currently a member of The Wexford Factory.

King
Peter Lidbetter

Peter holds an MMus and PGdip in vocal performance from the Royal Northern College of Music (both with distinction), where he also won the Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Award and the Brigitte Fassbaender Award for Lieder. He was part of the WFO Chorus in 2021 and he is currently a member of The Wexford Factory.

Fairy
Deirdre Arratoon

Deirdre started singing as guest soloist with choral societies and orchestras including The Garda Band, Eroica Camerata and Arun Sinfonia. She is the 2021 winner of the Dame Felicity Lott recital award and has recently sung Dorabella/Così fan tutte in Vienna with the Wiener Festspiele Orchestra. She is a member of the 2022 Wexford Factory.

Royal Minister
Peter McCamley

Peter is a graduate of the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in the UK and the American College, Dublin, where he holds the position of the Head of the Acting Department. He has worked for: The RSC, The Blueman Group, Channel 4, Channel 5, RTÉ and Birmingham Stage Company. He teaches the Guitar and Drums. He played William Shakespeare for WFO in the 2021 Impossible Interviews.