University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

University of Hartford

When the University of Hartford was incorporated just over 50 years ago by business and community leaders, they envisioned a center of education and culture for Greater Hartford. Read more...

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Massenet: Cendrillon

12/10/2023 1:00 pm
12/10/2023 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

How could an operatic score as beautiful as Jules Massenet's Cendrillon (1899) be so quickly forgotten? All of Massenet's thirty operas, with the sole exceptions of Manon and Thaïs, fell out of the repertoire after World War I, because it seems audiences no longer favored their romantic sentimentality. Now is the perfect moment to revive Cendrillon in radio broadcast, since Christmastime is a time for sentimental, romantic, and enchanting fantasies.

The familiar fairytale of Cinderella has been set to music many times with success. Rossini's La Cenerentola is the prime example. Massenet drew on Perrault's classic French version of the story, rather than the grisly German variant written down by the Brothers Grimm. Some of Massenet's loveliest music is reserved for the scene involving Cendrillon's fairy godmother.

I broadcast Cendrillon long ago on LPs on Sunday, April 30, 1989. Soprano Frederike von Stade was heard as Cendrillon (aka Lucette) in the world premiere recording, reissued in 1979 by CBS Masterworks. Tenor Nicolai Gedda was her Prince Charming. Julius Rudel directed the Philharmonia Orchestra and Ambrosian Chorus. When Cendrillon was reissued on compact disc I featured it again on Sunday, December 10, 1995. I draw upon those same CBS Masterworks CDs again for broadcast today on this Second Sunday of Advent. The discs come on loan from the holdings of the Allen Memorial Library of Hartt College, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Hartford.