First-Rate Rossini; OPERA

Article excerpt

Byline: FIONA MADDOCKS

OPERA

La Cenerentola Glyndebourne

ECSTATIC cheers erupted as the curtain fell on Sir Peter Hall's new staging of La Cenerentola, which opened Glyndebourne's new season. He first directed there 35 years ago, became artistic director, fell out and left. Now he's back, a welcomed prodigal grandpapa, tackling his first Rossini and teaming up with Vladimir Jurowski, the company's youthful Russian music director.

The partnership works. Hall has said that he is playing this comic opera straight. In a sense, it's the only path to take, since the endlessly expressive music brims with jokes. Ensembles tie themselves in knots, grown men sing cheep-cheep, ding-dong doggerel and an air of lunacy prevails.

Hall's answer is to exercise restraint, even in the mad set pieces. After a slowish start, with some opening night nerves in evidence, this sober approach turned out to be sharp and amusing.

This is Rossini's version of Cinderella, in which fairy godmother and glass slipper have been excised and replaced with class warfare and social comment.

Poor Cinders, here called Angelina, has ambitions from the start. The sisters, spunkily sung by Raquela Sheeran and Lucia Cirillo, are coquettish and far from ugly, puzzlingly happy to greet strangers in their underwear.

Hildegard Bechtler's naturalistic designs, somewhat obtrusively lit by Peter Mumford, opened with a Chardin-esque kitchen, carefully observed if necessarily drab. …