Sunday, February 10, 2013

DoDonato and Coote

Hungry for some spectacular musical entertainment tonight, our minds just naturally settled upon the new (to us) DVD of Massenet's Cinderella with Joyce DiDonato.  We'd actually seen this production live at its original outing in Santa Fe a few years back.  I remember it as amiable but a bit fluffy; the kind of thing that sets you to checking your watch about halfway through the second act and remembering that Rossini did it better.

No such problem this time around: Massenet is not on anybody's a-list, but the Covent Garden recorded version is engaging the whole way through.  Which is a contrast made  no less remarkable by the fact that both have not only the same staging but the same star:   DiDonato in the title role.

What, then, can be different?  I suppose you could say "a lot: big league orchestra, better casting."  Maybe also seasoning: I suppose there is a risk of going stale in repeat performances but I must say DiDonato seemed a lot  more memorable here: maybe she has matured all round, or maybe just found new possibilities in familiar material.   

But more than just the star, I think a big distinction was the presence this time around of Alice Coote in the trouser role as the Prince. No, not just Coote, although she was fine.  It's Coote and DiDonato together: you get the sense that one of them is--or it could be that both are--the kind of performer(s) who allows others around them look even better.  Whatever: it's a lightweight opera, well performed, and the the centerpiece discovery duet between the two lovers is just priceless.

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