Monday, February 19, 2018

Prokofiev's Cinderella

Is there a running theme here? Ah, there are always running themes. And actually, there are a couple of running themes this time. They are the themes of falling in love and of the classic rags to riches story, Cinderella.

Last spring, Arizona Opera put on their production of Rossini's Cinderella, and now this February, Ballet Arizona performed Prokofiev's Cinderella. So an opera version of the story one year and a ballet version the next year. This time there was more of a touch of fantasy and less of that socio-political angle--of course this would make sense given that there could be no dialogue in the ballet, just visuals. When the scene opened on Cinderella in her "rags," I did have a feeling of deja vu, as if it hadn't been nearly a year since I'd last watched this character on the Symphony Hall stage, but that quickly dissipated as we launched into an entirely different type of production, complete with the usual high production standards.

While I still probably enjoyed Swan Lake last October more, I did find Cinderella more to my tastes than Romeo and Juliet last February. Speaking of Romeo and Juliet, I've just come off of Southwest Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet last month, where I commented about the strong feeling of falling in love that was in the play. I got that same type of feeling at times from this ballet, when Cinderella and the prince danced together. I don't know why I got that from Cinderella but not from Romeo and Juliet (the ballet). I just know that you could tangibly feel that tone.

Our story, then, was of nature drawing like to like. Cinderella, through her grace, drew the attention of the fairy godmother and then of the prince. Her stepsisters, on the other hand, scared everyone away and drew only disdain with their wiling and presumptuous attitudes.

And the stepsisters, my goodness, they were definitely an audience favorite. The stepsisters aren't supposed to have social graces, which would mean that they don't dance well--but here we had talented dancers portraying poor dancing. Quite an art there. They weren't just dancing; they were truly acting, with such great physical comedy. They were the element of levity in a story that, while a fantasy, is also quite serious.

Now "Someday My Prince Will Come" from Snow White and "So This Is Love" from Cinderella are going through my head simultaneously. Valentine's Day month really is hanging on forever, isn't it?

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