Discover the story of Massenet's magical Cendrillon opera
An exciting invitation
Faced with an ill-natured wife, demanding step-daughters and unhappy servants, Pandolfe recalls the simplicity of his former days living alone with his daughter Cendrillon. He resolves to assert his authority and spare Cendrillon from the bullying of her new relations. Meanwhile, Cendrillon’s stepmother and sisters prepare to go to a ball, where they hope to attract the Prince. Cendrillon herself is to be left at home.
The Fairy Godmother appears
As Cendrillon sleeps by the fire her Fairy Godmother appears, conjuring a magical gown from starlight and moonbeams as well as glass slippers which will disguise Cendrillon from her relatives. But the enchantment will break at midnight, so Cendrillon must make sure to return home before then.
A beautiful stranger
The Prince is melancholy. His father the King reminds him that he must choose a wife. Eligible princesses present themselves to him, but none of them catches his eye. A beautiful stranger – Cendrillon in disguise – arrives, and she and the Prince fall instantly in love. The clock begins to strike midnight and Cendrillon flees, losing a glass slipper as she goes.
After the ball
The family returns from the ball, angrily discussing the beautiful stranger. Ultimately they dismiss her as a passing fancy; the Prince couldn’t possibly love such a woman. Cendrillon nearly faints with horror.
A new plan
Comforting the weeping Cendrillon, Pandolfe promises to take her away with him to live in his country home. But Cendrillon cannot be comforted, and runs out into the cold night, refusing to be a burden to her father.
An enchanted encounter
The Fairy Godmother conjures spirits and a magical bower, bringing Cendrillon and the Prince together at a magic oak tree for a mystical ceremony of love. They exchange their vows, embrace, then fall asleep by a stream.
Was it all a dream?
Months have passed since Pandolfe found his daughter by the stream and took her home. Delirious, she half wakes, telling her father all that has passed. But he tells her it was only a dream. It is now spring, and the Prince summons all the women of the kingdom to try on the glass slipper, in hopes of finding his beloved. Convinced that one of her daughters must be the Prince’s true love, Madame de la Haltière hurries them off to the palace. Now recovered, Cendrillon goes with them.
A happy ending
Cendrillon tries on the slipper and the Prince recognises his mysterious beauty from the ball. The two lovers are reunited, and the whole court rejoices.
Image credits: Cendrillon (Cinderella), Tour 2018, photos by Richard Hubert Smith