A fine sense of irony prevails at Opera North. It advertised the second half of their season as ‘deliciously dark fairy tales’, then stage one of the frothier versions of the Cinderalla story (Rossini’s La Cenerentola) and extract laughs by the bucket load.
True, we see an affecting triumph-over-evil eponymous heroine in Wallis Giunta, but we know the story too well to really fear for her dignity as she is bullied by the Ugly Sisters (Sky Ingram and Amy J Payne).
Wallis’ mezzo coloratura works well with Prince Ramiro’s (Sonnyboy Dladla) tenor, although Rossini’s tenor arias stretch any singer in the upper ranges.
However, it is Henry Waddington’s unspeakable Don Ramiro that steals the show.
As proprietor of Dan Ramiro’s Dance Studio, he is introduced with his portly frame demonstrating a stately pavan. He then launches into self-delusion believing
The Prince is about to propose to one of his preferred daughters, thereby gaining him preference at court.
We like this rogue so much that we feel little relish for his inevitable come-uppance.
I am sure that the decision to set La Cenerentola in a dance studio was taken long before news of the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s staging of Strictly Ballroom emerged.
However, there is considerable synergy between the two rags to riches/true love stories.
Aletta Collins’ direction offers a credible modern context for Rossini’s tale, without resorting to gimmicks and leaving the music entirely as originally conceived.
A deliciously light confection to end this demi-season.
La Cenerentola and Hansel and Gretel continue at Leeds Grand Theatre until Saturday February 25 and then touring.
Tickets are available from the theatre box office on0844 848 2700.