Cendrillon opera retells classic Cinderella story

The UConn Opera program performed the Classic Cinderella Story: Cendrillion in Jorgensen Center for Performing arts on Sunday, Jan 28. The timeless classic is performed on stage with the assistance of the pit band. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

The UConn Opera program performed the Classic Cinderella Story: Cendrillion in Jorgensen Center for Performing arts on Sunday, Jan 28. The timeless classic is performed on stage with the assistance of the pit band. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

Sunday afternoon, Jorgenson’s audience was composed largely of families and children for UConn Opera’s second performance of Cendrillon. The show played on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and  again on Sunday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The opera was a collaborative production that followed the classical Cinderella story with moderate deviations.

UConn students and a number of children’s chorus members from Windham Public Schools played roles on stage, but the show was also made possible by students and alumni alike from the Department of Dramatic Arts, the School of Digital Media and Design and the Ballard Institute of Museum of Puppetry. 

“It’s just an incredible experience to work with a bunch of people towards a common goal,” said Tyler Panek, a sixth semester pre-teaching for music education major, who played the king on stage. “Things you can’t plan for, with everybody working together, they find a way to iron it all out.”

Michelle Hendrick served as Stage Director and Brett Hodgdon, instructor of vocal literature and diction, directed the music.

“It’s a fun time and it’s a lot of hard work,” Abigail Gibson, a fourth semester music major, said. Gibson acted as a household worker and a fine lady in different parts of the opera. “They treat you like adults. It doesn’t feel like a high school production.”

Like many interpretations of Cinderella’s rags-to-riches fairytale, in Cendrillon many of the major plot points resembled the classic tale, but a number of differences distinguished the performance.

The opera opens with Cinderella’s father bemoaning his obnoxious wife and her insufferable daughters, to the amusement of the audience. Although he is a largely passive character at the beginning of the musical, when Cinderella, called Lucette, is distraught after the ball, he steps up to the plate to comfort her and try to remove them from the undesirable step-situation, unlike many other Cinderella tales.

Much of the language was also more flowery than one might expect of Disney or the Brothers Grimm. Lucette and her father sing “at evening we shall hear the nightingale sing,” and later Cinderella sings, “the clear blue sky appears when storms are passed.” Many of phrases are metaphors with a basis in nature.

Besides the elevated language, the emotions were also more powerful than in alternate representations. When they doubt finding one another again, both Lucette and the prince speak of dying from their grief.

The opera ended with bows and applause before performers dispersed into the crowd to find friends and family members. Overall, the event was a hit with its Sunday crowd, receiving standing ovations from portions of the audience.


Alex Houdeshell is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.houdeshell@uconn.edu.