Dramma giocoso in two acts · Music by Gioachino Rossini · Libretto by Jacopo Ferretti, based upon Charles Perrault's tale Cendrillon and upon the librettos by Charles-Guillaume Etienne and Francesco Fiorini · Premiere: Rome, 25th January 1817, Teatro Valle
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana
Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana
Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro
22nd, 25th, 27th, 30th November 2011
2nd, 27th, 30th December 2011
4th January 2012
All performances start al 8:00 pm, except for Sundays and holidays, which are at 7:00 pm
Prince Ramiro wants to marry for love. Being prepared to find a young girl worthy of him, he organises a ball where he will choose his future wife from among the attendees. Alidoro, a philosopher and the Prince's tutor goes to Baron Magnifico's mansion disguised as a beggar. He tries to get into the house to find out if any of Baron Magnifico's daughters fits the description of a kind-hearted, upright girl that he wants for Don Ramiro. He knocks on the door to ask for alms. He finds himself before Clorinda and Tisbe, Don Magnifico's daughters, who are two idle girls who spend the day looking at themselves in the mirror and preening themselves in their hunt for a rich husband, while Angelina, the Baron's stepdaughter, also called Cenerentola (Cinderella), works endlessly for her family as if she were a maid. She is the only one who deigns to offer him some coffee and bread.
A royal cortege arrives to invite the family to the ball. Excited by the possibility of meeting the prince and seducing him, Tisbe and Clorinda make such a fuss that they wake Don Magnifico from his deep sleep to tell him the news. Anxious for one of his daughters to marry into royalty, he asks his daughters to wear their best clothes and show off their full beauty.
Hidden behind the cortege is the Prince, disguised as a servant, watching the behaviour of the Baron's daughters. Neither in Clorinda nor in Tisbe does he recognise the honest woman his tutor Alidoro had spoken to him about... until he suddenly sees Cenerentola. They fall in love at first sight. Don Magnifico, Tisbe and Clorinda call on "their maid" to help them get ready for the ball.
Dandini, Don Ramiro's waiter, who is disguised as the Prince, goes to the Baron's mansion to meet his daughters personally. He is amazed at just how vulgar Don Magnifico is and is disgusted by the way they treat and humiliate Cenerentola. She wants to go to the ball but the Baron says she is not his daughter, in spite of Alidoro revealing that in the "marriage register" he has, three daughters are recorded.
The Baron, covering Cenerenetola's mouth, and making threats so she does not speak, tells him that his other daughter died and the girl with them is just the maid. The situation appears to be closed and they all leave with Dandini, except Cenerentola. Alidoro comforts her and invites her to the ball. A carriage will come to pick her up and she will be given everything she needs to dress for the ball, like a princess. The only thing she has to do is conceal her identity.
Don Ramiro's Palace. Dandini, still pretending to be the Prince, receives the guests. Tisbe and Clorinda flirt with him, competing with each other for his attention, each more grotesque than the other. Meanwhile, Don Magnifico is made guest of honour with a ceremony appointing him the Royal Wine Cellarer, after showing his thorough knowledge about wine.
Dandini, overwhelmed by the girls, says he can only choose one of the two, and that the other may marry his friend Ramiro, his servant. But neither Tisbe nor Clorinda are prepared to end up with a mere servant. Alidoro announces the arrival of a mysterious lady concealed by a veil. When she reveals her face, Don Magnifico and his daughters do not take long to notice a certain similarity to Cenerentola. Dandini calls for dinner and that he will choose his wife after the dance.
Don Ramiro's Palace. The mysterious lady has captivated everyone during the dinner, including Don Ramiro, who is enchanted by her. He has the feeling he has met her before. The Baron starts to worry because he sees her as a serious rival for his daughters. But Clorinda and Tisbe assure their father that they will win: the Prince adores them both, besides, it is impossible that this elegant lady could be the scruffy Cenerentola.
Dandini tries to court Cenerentola. She discreetly rejects him and confesses that she is really in love with his servant. Don Ramiro, who is nearby and listening in on the conversation, is moved when he hears her words and moves over to her. He is impressed that the young girl is guided by her love for him and not by luxury and wealth. Cenerentola has to leave. Before doing so, she leaves him a bracelet, matching the one she is wearing on her right arm. He will have to find her and, if he still loves her when he sees her in tatters and rags, dirty from soot, she will be his.
Don Ramiro orders Dandini to stop pretending to be the prince and bids all his guests farewell. Don Magnifico is intrigued to know the Prince's choice. Dandini tells him that his mind is made up and it will soon be made known. Beforehand, he must let only him and his daughters into a secret: he is not really the prince, but just a simple servant, and therefore the one he chooses, albeit Tisbe or Clorinda, must live in poverty when they marry him. This is a severe blow to Don Magnifico, who is infuriated to be the victim of this joke. He will ask the real Prince for explanations.
Don Magnifico's Mansion. Cenerentola is by the fireplace, wearing her usual clothes. Her stepfather returns from the ball, furious and indignant, followed by Clorinda and Tisbe. After the fiasco, the girls are at least consoled to see that Cenerentola was not the mysterious lady at the ball, in spite of their similarity.
Outside the house, in the middle of a storm, a carriage topples over. The passengers knock on the door to ask for help. It is Don Dandini and Don Ramiro. The Baron bends over backwards for Don Ramiro. He asks Cenerentola to bring a chair for the Prince. When she offers Dandini the chair, Don Magnifico tells her the prince is the other one, the one she thinks is the servant. The girl blushes. Don Ramiro sees the bracelet that Cenerentola is wearing on her arm and is overwhelmed by joy to see that she is the young lady who left the ball early. There is a moment of general confusion. They are all astonished, especially Clorinda, Tisbe and Don Magnifico, who are unable to believe that the Prince has fallen in love with this scruffy girl.
Don Ramiro asks Cenerentola to marry him and warns Don Magnifico that he will be punished for having been cruel to the young girl. In spite of everything, she begs the Prince to pardon her family, but her sisters push her away when she tries to hug them. Don Ramiro and Cenerentola leave.
Clorinda and Tisbe are furious. They feel they have been the subject of the most cruel joke. Alidoro comes to Don Magnifico's house to chastise the fact that they were not kind to him when he came to ask for alms. Furthermore, he accuses the Baron of squandering Cenerentola's love. The family is forced to choose between living in misery or kneeling before the future wife of the Prince. Tisbe and Clorinda face their destiny and decide to beg Cenerentola for pardon, so they can continue with their idle lives. Alidoro, on the other hand, is pleased to see that pride has been punished and goodness has triumphed.
The wedding between Don Ramiro and Cenerentola is held. Don Magnifico, still confused and at a loss, attends the wedding. Clorinda and Tisbe arrive bereaved. Both kneel repentant before Cenerentola, who embraces them sincerely and pardons them.