By Jules Massenet. Libretto: Henri Caïn. Victorian Opera. Director: Libby Hill. Musical Director: Phoebe Briggs. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. July 15 – 18, 2016

Victorian Opera’s latest production for schools is an abridged version of Massenet’s Cinderella (Cendrillon). Designed to travel to schools and fit into various spaces, the set featured a series of flats on trolleys, which were pushed around stage to create different spaces. One side had Cinderella’s house and the other was the palace. This worked very well. The flats and the costumes were very colourful.

The opera featured past members of the Masters of Opera program, run in conjunction with Melbourne University. The result was a young, remarkably even cast, that worked very well together.

Cinderella was played by Kate Amos, looking appropriately lovely and forlorn, and singing beautifully. Daniel Carison played her father and was a strong hen-pecked husband, who also had some tender scenes with his daughter.

Fleuranne Brockway was a domineering step-mother with Cristina Russo and Shakira Tsindos playing her daughters, getting lots of laughs. Nathan Lay was the doddery king, with Carlos Barcenos, as Prince Charming, singing beautifully as always.

Michelle McCarthy was a spectacular fairy godmother with a beautiful costume. The high coloratura passages were negotiated with ease.

The audience appeared to be comprised mainly of primary school age children, who were remarkably well-behaved, and grandparents. It was performed in French with descriptions of what was being sung, rather than a translation. I would think a sung English translation would have been more appropriate for this audience. The surtitles were on the walls at the side of the stage, which shifted the focus.

However, this was a most commendable effort, and will hopefully introduce opera to a whole new generation.

Graham Ford

Images: Michelle McCarthy and Kate Amos, & Cristina Russo, Fleuranne Brockway, Shakira Tsindos, Michael Petruccelli, Carlos E. Bárcenas, Kate Amos, Daniel Carison, Nathan Lay, Kirilie Blythman and Elizabeth Barrow. Photographer: Charlie Kinross.

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.