Director Renaud Doucet and designer André Barbe pose the question with their new production of Massenet's Cendrillon (the Cinderella story), which opened Oct. 27 at New York City Opera.
"We started from a vision of the 1950s as the last great romantic era," says Barbe, who works and lives in partnership with Doucet in Montreal. "It was a time when girls could dream of becoming princesses, as Grace Kelly actually did." As you can see in the photos below, the staging incorporates all kinds of '50s imagery, from the diner-style kitchen in which Cinderella slaves away (the Fairy Godmother and her crew look like the waitresses) to the cheesecake calendar on the wall of Prince Charming's quarters to the drive-in movie (in place of the usual oak tree) at which the two lovers meet at night. Look carefully and you'll spot Mr. Clean somewhere ...
Cassandre Berthon sings the title role, with Katherine Jolly as the Fairy Godmother and Joyce Castle as the wicked stepmother; though Prince Charming was originally written as a soprano role, here it has been taken down an octave and assigned to a tenor, the dashing Fr_d_ric Antoun. City Opera music director George Manahan conducts.
There will be five further performances of Cendrillon at the New York State Theater from tomorrow through Nov. 18; information and tickets are available at www.nycopera.com.
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All photos by Carol Rosegg.