When Acting Dean of William Smith Susanne McNally agreed to help a friend with a summer theatrical production three years ago, she had no way of knowing that a simple favor would become an annual, beloved summer commitment. Now, as she works on this summer’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera “La Cenerentola,” she is helping to bring the fairytale favorite “Cinderella” to new life.
Presented by American Landmark Festivals and Smith Center for the Arts, the opera is staged and directed by Al Bergeret, who founded the New York Gilbert and Sullivan society. The opera will be sung in English so that, along with the gorgeous music, the audience can understand the wit and broad humored Rossini’s retelling.
“I work hard every summer on the costumes and props and help to organize the chorus,” says McNally. “I love these productions because the quality of the musicians that Landmark brings is outstanding – some of the most beautiful music in the world is sung by world-class vocal talent.”
In Rossini’s version, there are changes that add to the depth of the performance. The stepmother is replaced by a stepfather and the fairy godmother by the Prince’s tutor. Also, the glass slippers have been exchanged for golden bracelets. Other than these minor changes in cast and props, the trials and triumphs of Cinderella are familiar to a generation who grew up with Disney movies. In addition the old tale is given new poignancy and joy by Rossini’s luminous and brilliant music.
The cast is composed of singers of international acclaim and local talent. Returning from earlier summers, Jimi James, noted for his outstanding performances at the Syracuse Opera, plays the baritone role of a smart servant disguised as the wife-searching Prince. The mezzosoprano Laurel Cameron, noted for her performances for the Virginia Opera and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, is Cinderella. Geneva’s Charles King is Alidoro, the ever more magical tutor. A newcomer to Geneva’s summer opera is Ryan Allen, a noted Metropolital Opera veteran, is singing the deep bass part of Don Magnifico, the absolutely, downright wicked stepfather who we love to hate. The German tenor Nils Neubert, with a long resume in notable performance venues such as Carnegie Hall, is Prince Ramiro and the comically dreadful stepsisters are sung by Natasha Drake and Julie Diniz. The pianist is New York City freelancer Elizabeth Rogers.
Tickets for “La Cenerentola” are $25 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors. Kids K-12 will be admitted free. . For tickets and further information contact The Smith Opera House, 315-781-8354 or www.TheSmith.org