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Siete qui: Home Festival Festival 2009 La Cenerentola, or the triumph of music
La Cenerentola, or the triumph of music PDF Print E-mail

by Alberto Mattioli

La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo, (Cindarella or the triumph of goodness) is a «comic melodrama» in two acts; its libretto is by Jacopo Ferretti, inspired by the libretto of Agatina o La virtù premiata (Agatina or the rewarded honesty) written by Francesco Fiorino for composer Stefano Pavesi (1814), that had been written after the Cendrillon by Charles-Guillaume Étienne for Nicolò Isourard (1810), from the plot of the tale Cendrillon ou La petite pantoufle written by the well-known fairy-tale writer Charles Perrault (1697). Put to music by Gioachino Rossini, it has been premiered in Rome, Valle Theater, on January 25, 1817. After La pietra del paragone, L’italiana in Algeri, Il turco in Italia and Almaviva, o sia L’inutile precauzione (Il barbiere di Siviglia), this is Rossini's fifth important comic opera. And also the last one. Why?
La Cenerentola
brings, as we can say, to the extreme consequences a musical theater who's dramaturgy is very peculiar, literally unusual before (and also after Rossini) in music history. It is a theater that does not narrate reality but that transcends it. Here comedy is never connected to a determinate situation, it is instead always abstract, unreal, surreal. The pure geometry of the orchestra's rhythm is linked to the arabesque of belcanto not to describe the world, but to transfigure it. It is a theater of absurd ante litteram, a pretext to search that «ideal beauty» that Rossini will always consider his aesthetic model. Indeed he had said – during an unusual moment of theoretical thought and, even more unusual, during a leap of sincerity with himself – that music «not having the means to imitate the truth, elevates itself over common reality to reach an ideal world».

Evidently, this does not elude social satyr, extremely strong in Cenerentola notwithstanding the fairy-tale nature of the plot, nor the creation of the Characters. Indeed, as has been underlined by Giovanni Carli Ballola in his recent Rossini, to make an example, Don Magnifico is not a simple «chap», typical in comic melodrama but is instead a character «worthy of the most sour Molière. In his enormous, absolute vacuity, the vanity of Baron of Montefiascone is tragic as the hypocrisy of Tartuffe or the greed of Harpagon». And we shall add, it is equally violent with others; in this case poor Angelina «reduced to slavery», as we would read on today's newspapers, remains without all her possessions and also, as in a story by Pirandello, without her own identity.
But in Cenerentola, Rossini's comic means are so developed that they arrive to a point of no return: crescendos have never been so vertiginous, the plots of the concertati have never been so complex, the arabesques of belcanto have never been at this level of virtuosity. Never this will of grandness, typical of all of Rossini's music and refused by some superficial amateurs as Stendhal, had developed in such clearness. Form, in Rossini, tends to inflate: here truly it reaches the maximum of the possibilities of comic melodrama and of what it's public is willing to hear (indeed public has always preferred Barbiere to Cenerentola). And Rossini will dedicate definitely his will of absolute to the composition of serious opera.