La Cenerentola, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Glyndebourne

Rags, riches and a class act

A tattered curtain is drawn across the Glyndebourne stage. So much for the rags. But does Sir Peter Hall's new staging of Rossini's La Cenerentola also deliver riches at the start of this new season? Yes and no.

Music director Vladimir Jurowski kicks it off with a zinging account of the Overture - not the usual all-purpose romp through the various crescendos, but a deliciously nuanced comedy of point and counterpoint, the London Philharmonic woodwinds suitably giocoso. You don't need to speak Italian to know the meaning of the word. That's Rossini for you. And, throughout, Jurowski was wonderfully alive to the onomatopoeic character of the score.

The best that can be said of Hall's production is that he takes the piece seriously. He doesn't look for laughs that just aren't there; he doesn't dress it up (and nor does his designer Hildegard Bechtler) in misplaced frippery; he takes the text at its word and the word for its truth. This is always Hall's strength - truth and detail.

And there's plenty of both here. The work's dark social undertow regarding class and prejudice is brought tellingly to the surface. The character of the philosopher Alidoro - a commanding Nathan Berg - is literally given the moral authority of centre stage. He addresses us directly, as do all the characters. We are far from passive participants in this "pantomime". Then again, it could be argued that Hall and Bechtler so earnestly seek to avoid the "pantomimic" that their somewhat dowdy realism does, in the end, lack theatrical panache.

Yet I can honestly say that I have never seen the ensembles more cunningly staged to bring out their conniving character. Each of the characters has something to hide, some secret that only we, the audience, are party to, so in those "frozen" moments where their collective inner voices come breathlessly to the surface, Hall and his lighting designer Peter Mumford go all out for the surreal, with each of the characters striking attitudes in a kind of creepy slow-motion. There is an air of the madhouse about it. Moments of stupefaction - like the great ensemble in the final scene (Rossini's immaculate anarchy at its most dazzling) - are touched by the supernatural. You might say that this is Hall's concession to the absent fairy godmother. Simple but transforming.

To everyone's credit, Hall's cast look and behave like they really belong in this show. But I'm not sure the singing always stands up to scrutiny. The young Russian tenor Maxim Mironov has the puppy-dog looks and appropriate vocal equipment for Prince Ramiro, but on the finer points of the Italianate style he's more of a valet. His tendency to aspirate the runs denies us the elegance that signifies good musical breeding.

It is, of course, a supremely witty idea on Rossini's part to make Don Ramiro's valet a bass. Also, Simone Alberghini is Italian, which makes their role-reversal somewhat unbalanced. Alberghini comes on so strong in the style and charm departments that you almost don't notice his vocal shortcomings. You can believe Cenerentola's "ugly" sisters - the excellent Raquela Sheeran (Clorinda) and Lucia Cirillo (Tisbe) - would hang on his every falsehood.

Displacing a great deal of hot air at the heart of this production is the fabulously "authentic" Don Magnifico of Luciano Di Pasquale. Rarely has the word "magnifico" been more debased. You could almost smell this boorish, lustful oaf from the posh side of the footlights. His oral dexterity (in the matter of Rossini's patter) was scary, and his reaction to the arrival of Angelina (Cenerentola) at the ball was alone worth the price of a ticket.

And the lady herself? Ruxandra Donose is one of singers who has it all - looks, sound, technique - but still leaves you wanting more. In the fabulous roulades of her closing rondo you could hardly ask for more, but more is what you should get. In a word, temperament.

In rep to 28 August (01273 813 813)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing