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Monika Rittershaus

Opera

Cendrillon

Jules Massenet

Opéra Bastille

from 25 October to 16 November 2023

3h00 with 1 interval

Cendrillon

Opéra Bastille - from 25 October to 16 November 2023

Synopsis

Listen to the synopsis

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Although inspired by Perrault's fairy tale, Jules Massenet's Cendrillon joyfully diverges from it: there is no pumpkin or carriage, and even less of a fairy slipper to be tried on. What is the point, since Cinderella and Prince Charming recognise each other immediately? Do they not share the same loneliness despite their different social positions? In choosing female voices for these two roles, Massenet underlines their kindred souls in a seductive score that deliberately combines styles. Mariame Clément handles the work with great sensitivity. The director plays with clichés and the Belle Époque - the era in which the score was created - with allusions to the Fée Électricité and the cinema of Méliès. A means to reflect on the myth and social conventions... whilst preserving a childlike soul.

Duration : 3h00 with 1 interval

Language : French

Surtitle : French / English

  • Opening

  • First Part 80 min

  • Intermission 30 min

  • Second Part 70 min

  • End

Show acts and characters

CHARACTERS

Cendrillon (Lucette): Pandolfe’s daughter and Madame de La Haltière’s stepdaughter
Madame de La Haltière: Cendrillon’s stepmother Mother to Noémie and Dorothée
Le Prince Charmant
La Fée: Cendrillon’s godmother
Noémie: Cendrillon’s stepsister
Dorothée: Cendrillon’s stepsister
Pandolfe: Cendrillon’s father, a widower and now married to Madame de La Haltière
Le Roi  

Act 1:
Pandolfe, a weak-minded commoner, is sorry that he left the countryside to marry the Countess de La Haltière, especially as his daughter Lucette is rejected by her stepfamily who call her Cendrillon. Resorting to endless artifices, the ambitious countess prepares her two daughters Noémie and Dorothée to attend the King’s ball. Left alone, Cendrillon thinks about the ball with regret and tidies up the house before falling asleep by the hearth. Her godmother the Fairy appears and bids her elves to dress Cinderella in finery and to prepare a carriage for her. Upon awakening, Cendrillon is amazed at her transformation, but she must promise the Fairy to return before midnight. She leaves for the ball with the assurance that her relatives will not recognise her thanks to her enchanted slippers.

Act 2:
At the King’s palace everything is ready for the ball but the courtiers, doctors and ministers fail to entertain the gloomy Prince Charming who despairs of finding love. As dances succeed each other for the Prince to choose a bride, Cendrillon appears to everyone’s amazement. They both fall in love at first sight, but Cendrillon refuses to answer when the Prince asks her name. Midnight tears the lovers apart.

Act 3:
Back at home, Cendrillon is sorry to have lost a slipper in her flight and begs the Fairy’s forgiveness, but the latter remains invisible. The family returns shortly afterwards, arguing about the unknown beauty. Despite Pandolfe’s protests, Mme de La Haltière and her daughters vilify her and claim that the Prince forgot her as soon as she left the ball. Cendrillon is distraught. Pandolfe finally summons up the courage to drive the three harpies out and promises his daughter to return with her to their old home, but Cendrillon decides to run away alone to die under the Fairy Oak. Under the Oak, the Fairy and the spirits see the two lovers approach and make them invisible to each other. As the Prince begs the Fairy for the unknown girl’s return and Cendrillon cries out for death, each recognises the other’s voice. Cendrillon reveals her name to the Prince. The Fairy reunites them, allows them to kiss, then plunges them into slumber.

Act 4:
Several months have elapsed and Cendrillon emerges from a long sleep punctuated by delusions. She wonders whether she has dreamt everything, which her father confirms. But a proclamation from the King comforts her, while at the same time awakening Mme de La Haltière’s delusions of grandeur: all the young girls in the kingdom are invited to try on the lost slipper. The candidates come flocking in vain, much to the King’s despair, but the appearance of Lucette-Cendrillon, announced by the Fairy, brings the faltering Prince back to life. Mme de La Haltière discovers a sudden love for her daughter-in-law, and all the characters celebrate this happy conclusion.

Artists

Opera in four acts and six scenes (1899)
After Charles Perrault

Creative team

Cast

Media

[TRAILER] CENDRILLON by Jules Massenet
[TRAILER] CENDRILLON by Jules Massenet
  • Cinderella, between vulnerability and emancipation

    Cinderella, between vulnerability and emancipation

    Watch the video

  • Interview with Keri-Lynn Wilson: Telling the tale of Cendrillon's music

    Interview with Keri-Lynn Wilson: Telling the tale of Cendrillon's music

    Watch the video

  • Marvellous Cinderella

    Marvellous Cinderella

    Read the article

  • Draw-me Cinderella

    Draw-me Cinderella

    Watch the video

  • The Magic of Cinderella

    The Magic of Cinderella

    Watch the video

© Monika Rittershaus / OnP

Cinderella, between vulnerability and emancipation

Watch the video

Interview with Tara Erraught

07:39 min

Cinderella, between vulnerability and emancipation

By Aliénor Courtin

As Mariame Clément’s staging of Cendrillon enters the Paris Opera repertoire. Octave magazine talks to Tara Erraught, who sings the title rôle. She discusses the precision of the score, which highlights the humanity and the vulnerability of the characters. She explains that Lucette and the Prince, seemingly from different worlds, nevertheless share the same solitude and a quest for freedom, reflected in a shared vocal register: the role of the Prince being also entrusted to a woman.

© OV studio

Interview with Keri-Lynn Wilson: Telling the tale of Cendrillon's music

Watch the video

05:03 min

Interview with Keri-Lynn Wilson: Telling the tale of Cendrillon's music

By Isabelle Stibbe

How are contrasts born? Why is Prince Charming played by a female voice? How does the music interact with the staging?

To coincide with the revival of Mariame Clément's production of Cendrillon, Canadian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, making her Paris Opera debut, explains Massenet's music in this work inspired by Perrault's fairy tale.

© Collection Kharbine-Tapabor

Marvellous Cinderella

Read the article

From Perrault to today

07 min

Marvellous Cinderella

By Natacha Rimasson-Fertin

Massenet's Cinderella enters the Paris National Opera repertoire, and raises the eternal question: why offer today's audience a new reading of a classic tale? An essential question, however, because it is proof that these stories, however old they may be, still have a lot to tell us.

From Perrault's tale to Henri Cain's libretto

Cinderella was published in 1697 in the Histoires ou contes du temps passé aves des moralités, a volume of prose tales with a dedication 'To Mademoiselle', otherwise known as Elisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans, niece of Louis XIV. The frontispiece illustration, opposite the title page, depicts three characters seated in front of the hearth, facing an elderly spinner; above them is a sign bearing the words: "Contes de ma mère l'Oye". This inscription accompanies a scene of storytelling and is immediately suggestive of folklore, which seems to be confirmed by the absence of an author's name on the title page. The dedicatory epistle, on the other hand, is signed by a certain "P. Darmancour", who introduces himself as "a Child": this is Pierre Perrault, known as Perrault Darmancour, son of Charles Perrault and nineteen years old in 1697. This editorial stratagem, which has been commented on extensively by generations of critics, allows Charles Perrault to make people believe in the relative simplicity of the stories that follow - since they were written by "a Child" - even though the epistle implies multiple readings when it evokes "a very sound Morality, [...] which is perceived more or less, according to the degree of penetration of those who read them".

In the context of the quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns, these tales were also a way for Perrault to compete with La Fontaine, whose third volume of Fables was published in 1694, while his own Contes et nouvelles (1665-1671) were criticised for their lack of morality. Perrault therefore contrasted his Contes, "bagatelles" intended to "instruct", with the voluntarily saucy tales of the famous fabulist, without placing himself under the authority of an author from Antiquity.

In 1899, there were two French translations of the Grimm brothers' version, that of Frank and Alsleben (1869) and that of Charles Deulin (1878), but it was on Perrault's text, which was better known to the French public and less cruel, that Henri Cain, Massenet's librettist, based his work. He gives real substance to Cinderella's father, whom he names Pandolfe, a father whom Perrault only mentions at the opening of the tale, and then does not bother with at all. Cain takes advantage of this to redistribute the roles, thus departing from the source tale. This is one of the major changes: the father whom, in Perrault, "his wife [...] governed entirely", is just as submissive in Massenet's opera, but at least he is aware of this, describing himself in the second scene of Act I as "husband, twice-husband, very married", and full of compassion for his daughter, Lucette, with whom he shares long and tender scenes (Act III, scene 3; Act IV, scene 1). Massenet thus rebalances, through his librettist, the relationships between the characters by reintroducing the father figure, thus softening the fate of Cinderella. The stepsisters, on the other hand, are nothing but superficial and foolish, equally subject to a tyrannical and calculating mother who is determined that her offspring should not only make a good impression, but also be victorious at the ball, which is compared to a 'battlefield'. 

Forms and uses of the marvellous

Massenet remains very faithful to the plot of Cinderella, while adapting it to the means of expression specific to opera. While Perrault's text, faithful to the fairy-tale genre, externalizes the cruelty of the stepmother and her daughters, in Massenet and Cain's work Cinderella is not seen "cleaning the dishes and the stairs", nor carrying out the other chores that punctuate her daily life. During the preparations for the ball, Mme de La Haltière brings in milliners and hairdressers, which mitigates Cinderella's humiliation by her sisters. Only Lucette's long complaint (Act I, scene 5), 'Stay at home, little cricket [...]', and Pandolfe's reproaches, give us a sense of the young girl's resigned suffering.

Faced with the heroine's misfortune, the action of the tale follows a logic of reparation and compensation, playing on contrasts: the greater the distress, the more complete the final triumph. Ashes and rags are contrasted with a dress made of the rays of the stars and the thousand lights of the ball. The marvellous, embodied in Perrault by the Fairy Godmother alone who changes the pumpkin into a carriage, the mice and lizards into horses and lackeys, is transferred in Massenet to the marvellous dress, made of "joyful rays" stolen from the "radiant stars" (Act I, scene 6), and multiplied thanks to the spirits and the will-o'-the-wisps, to which are added the movement of birds and insects, and the twinkling of fireflies. The consoling and restorative function of the tale, and its playful function, through the wonder that it provides, come together here, and we all know the major role played by the lighting during the creation of this opera in 1899.

The "Electricity Fairy" has lost its power to amaze, so much so that it is part of our daily lives, but the tale of Cinderella told by Massenet and Henri Cain continues to bring comfort and hope. The poor orphan girl finds happiness in the prince but rescuing her from her miserable condition is not his only merit. Much more than the good fortune he represents, it is the meeting of two beings, of two souls, that is at the heart of the story.

The genre of the tale has been constantly updated and reread in the light of the questions or debates specific to a given era and society. Recently, there has been some concern about whether the vision of women conveyed by fairy tales is not old-fashioned, macho and therefore harmful, among other things because of a kiss straight out of Walt Disney's imagination. This is to forget, under the effect of the #MeToo movement, that the tales as well as their rewritings are each anchored in an era, in eras not all of whose values are still relevant. Exactly, not all. Because if the fairy-tale is so present on screens, on theatre and opera stages, from the most confidential to the most prestigious, it is because it still speaks to us today.

The tale lives on and the marvellous evolves, according to the period and its audience. Cinderella, like other tales, has been reused and transposed in many ways, in all media, even including a famous rock version. The magic of technical prowess has faded with the widespread use of special effects, and it is finally to the essential that the tale, an optimistic genre par excellence, brings us back. The motif of the slipper, which is only suitable for one girl, expresses, in the symbolic language of the tale, the profound and unbelievable affinity that lies in the loving encounter of two beings. Whether this magic works on everyone, including the stepmother, is open to doubt, but after all, isn't believing in this harmonious outcome part of the pact that the tale makes with its audience? Reality is suspended, the everyday is reenchanted as long as the tale lasts, which is particularly necessary today.

Draw-me Cinderella

Watch the video

Understand the plot in 1 minute

01:54 min

Draw-me Cinderella

By Octave

Jules Massenet no doubt sought to enchant his era when he set Charles Perrault’s fairytale to music. With Cendrillon, the composer offers us one of his most attractive works, quite unlike other operatic adaptations of the tale. The mischievous Lucette and the women around her give the work a tone whose myriad nuances confirm the words of Claude Debussy who saw Massenet as “the musical historian of the female soul”. By gracing the fairy with an unreal coloratura timbre and having the role of the prince sung by a soprano, the composer offers us a vocal festival carried along by a richly varied orchestration alternating between Mozartian finesse, baroque-style citations and grand romantic overtones. To mark the addition of Cendrillon to the Paris Opera’s repertoire, Mariame Clément plays on the myth’s fantasy side, reflecting on the characters’ inner selves whilst setting them free from their tight suits and court shoes.  


Playlist

© Elisa Haberer / OnP

The Magic of Cinderella

Watch the video

An interview with Mariame Clément

05:05 min

The Magic of Cinderella

By Solène Souriau

Jules Massenet's Cendrillon enters the Paris Opera's repertoire in a production directed by Mariame Clément. Faithful to the fairytale world of Charles Perrault's original tale, the director establishes links with the magic of the turn of the 20th century, the era when the score was composed.


Playlist

  • [EXTRAIT] CENDRILLON BY Jules Massenet
  • [EXTRAIT] CENDRILLON BY Jules Massenet
  • [EXTRAIT] CENDRILLON BY Jules Massenet
  • [EXTRAIT] CENDRILLON BY Jules Massenet
  • Cendrillon (saison 23/24) - Acte I - Prenez Un Maintien

  • Cendrillon (saison 23/24)- Acte I

  • Cendrillon (saison 23/24) - Acte II - Allez Laissez Moi Seul

  • Cendrillon (saison 23/24) - Acte II - Orchestre - La Florentine

  • Cendrillon (saison 23/24) - Acte III - C'est Vrai

  • Cendrillon (saison 23/24) - Acte III - Une Intrigante

Press

  • Jules Massenet’s charming lyrical fairy tale enters the Paris Opera repertoire in a very successful production.

    Télérama, 2022

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At the Palais Garnier, Cat. 6 tickets (very restricted view, with a maximum of two tickets per person) are released for €10 on the day of the performance at the Palais Garnier box office.

At the Palais Garnier and the Opéra Bastille, discounted tickets are released starting 30 minutes before the performance:

  • €10, €25 and €35 tickets for under 28s, unemployed people (you will be asked for proof dated three months or less), 65+ senior citizens not subject to tax (you will be asked for proof of non-taxation for the current fiscal year)
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Get samples of the operas and ballets at the Paris Opera gift shops: programmes, books, recordings, and also stationery, jewellery, shirts, homeware and honey from Paris Opera.

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  • Get in from Place de l’Opéra or from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 53 43 03 97
Opéra Bastille
  • Open 1h before performances and until performances end
  • Get in from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 40 01 17 82

Opéra Bastille

Place de la Bastille

75012 Paris

Public transport

Underground Bastille (lignes 1, 5 et 8), Gare de Lyon (RER)

Bus 29, 69, 76, 86, 87, 91, N01, N02, N11, N16

Calculate my route
Car park

Q-Park Opéra Bastille 34, rue de Lyon 75012 Paris

Book your parking spot

Imagined as benchmark, richly illustrated booklets, the programmes can be bought online, at the box offices, in our shops, and in the theatres hall on the evening of the performance.

BUY THE PROGRAM
  • Cloakrooms

    Free cloakrooms are at your disposal. The comprehensive list of prohibited items is available here.

  • Bars

    Reservation of drinks and light refreshments for the intervals is possible online up to 24 hours prior to your visit, or at the bars before each performance.

  • Parking

    You can park your car at the Q-Park Opéra Bastille. It is located at 34 rue de Lyon, 75012 Paris. 

    BOOK YOUR PARKING PLACE.

At the Palais Garnier, Cat. 6 tickets (very restricted view, with a maximum of two tickets per person) are released for €10 on the day of the performance at the Palais Garnier box office.

At the Palais Garnier and the Opéra Bastille, discounted tickets are released starting 30 minutes before the performance:

  • €10, €25 and €35 tickets for under 28s, unemployed people (you will be asked for proof dated three months or less), 65+ senior citizens not subject to tax (you will be asked for proof of non-taxation for the current fiscal year)
  • €15, €40 and €70 tickets for 65+ senior citizens

Get samples of the operas and ballets at the Paris Opera gift shops: programmes, books, recordings, and also stationery, jewellery, shirts, homeware and honey from Paris Opera.

Palais Garnier
  • Every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and until performances end
  • Get in from Place de l’Opéra or from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 53 43 03 97
Opéra Bastille
  • Open 1h before performances and until performances end
  • Get in from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 40 01 17 82

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3 min

Cendrillon

Massenet’s Cendrillon, the true/false story

The archetype evil stepmother and wicked stepsisters, the glass slipper… We all know Cinderella by heart! But what about its operatic version? If you want to check right away, then try to sort out this tangled story of Massenet’s Cendrillon. You’re up!

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