Lyric Opera Chicago performs Rossini's Cinderella

Todd Rosenberg

Magic was in the air for Chicagoans this Wednesday. As the Cubs took on the Pirates,Cinderella took to the stage thanks to Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, Rossini’s rousing music filled the Civic Opera House where audiences were entertained by the premier Chicago premiere directed to near perfection by Joan Font.

Seamlessly moving from one vibrant scene to the next, the two-act opera boasts Joan Guillen’s wildly creative production design. Yet as boldly colorful as the sets and costumes are, they pale next to Isabel Leonard who, in the title role, radiates beauty, warmth and talent. Yes, the Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano can act as well as sing.

Once again she is paired with her onstage nemesis baritone Alessandro Corbelli who now plays her evil stepfather. Audiences may recall the two as Rosina and Bartolo from Lyric’s exceptional 2014 staging of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

The reunion works as does everything else in the production: the characters are fleshed out, the mice are fetching in both the figurative and literal sense, and the jokes are actually funny. For as surreal as this fairy tale may appear on the surface, its humor and heartfelt themes are rooted in reality which make the layered libretto simultaneously delightful and deep.

In addition to Xevi Dorca’s whimsical choreography, Cinderella features a strong ensemble including the physically and vocally commanding bass-baritone Christian Van Horn and the impressive debuts of tenor Lawrence Brownlee as a charming yet chore-challenged prince and baritone Vito Priante as his witty and wily servant.

Although there is neither a fairy godmother nor a lost sole in this production, it didn’t lessen the enchantment on Wednesday night when the performance was magical—and the Cubs beat the Pirates to secure their place in the playoffs. Perhaps fairy tales do come true after all.

Co-produced by Houston Grand Opera, Welsh National Opera, Gran Théâtre del Liceu, and Grand Theatre de Genève, Cinderella runs through October 30. For tickets and more information, visit www.lyricopera.org.

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