A Cinderella That Creates Genuine Magic

Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre, Opera del West performance of Jules Massenet’s Cendrillon. Music by Jules Massenet, Libretto by Henri Cain. Artistic Director: Eve Kochen Budnick. Stage Director: Rebecca Kratzer. Cendrillon: Jennifer Jaroslavsky; Prince Charmant: JoAnna Pope; Pandolfe: Craig Juricka; Madame de la Haltiere: Suzanna Guzman; La Fee: Sulgi Cho.

August 11, 2019

Kudos to Eve Budnick, Artistic Director for Opera del West’s Boston Plaza Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End! She performed miracles in such a small performance space, turning it into a magical version of Jules Massenet’s opera, Cendrillon (Cinderella). The production included hefty vocal work by Craig Juricka as Pandolfe and Suzanna Guzman as Cinderella’s conniving mother. Jennifer Juroslavsky was stunning as Cinderella, based on her wide ranging mezzo and emotionally nuanced performance. Her pairing with JoAnna Pope as Prince Charming was splendid, particularly in the second half, when these two marvelous mezzo-sopranos came together. There was excellent choreography in this production by a set of wide ranging young women who imparted this tiny stage with a sylvan atmosphere. Such a fairytale-like quality was a large part of Massenet’s frame of reference and it lended excellence. The use of broad-based humor when appropriate (such as the scene with drunken sisters at the ball) kept the opera light.

Cendrillon included a spectacular South Korean lyric coloratura soprano, Sulgi Cho, as the fairy wielding a goodly amount of power over the fairy tale. Her soprano voice had a high tessitura and seemed pretty effortless most of the time. Her excellent makeup and costume made her look suitably otherworldly.

On a personal note, I think it’s a real shame that superb groups like Opera del West are limited to such tiny spaces that do not fully allow the dancers to be graceful and the opera singers to really let loose when the librettos require. However, such limitations will not prevent me from going back to future productions. I expect them to contain just as much magic as this one does.

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