Abridged Opera Intimately Brings Cinderella To Life at Willistead Manor

Abridged Opera’s enchanted presentation was not the Disney version of Cinderella, but the Jules Massenet opera, Cendrillon, first staged in Paris in 1899 to rave reviews. The opera was neglected for decades until recent years where it has enjoyed a revival by various prominent opera companies. A partnership of Abridged Opera and The Windsor Symphony Orchestra, the performance was staged in beautiful, historic Willistead Manor in a theatre in the round style to an intimate audience limited to fifty people on March 27 and 28.

Leah Giselle Field

Leah Giselle Field performing as Madame de la Haltière (the evil stepmother) during Abridged Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Described by Massenet as a fairy tale in four acts, the production was performed across three rooms, with audience members moving from room to room as the play progressed. The story opened in the main room as the home of Madame de la Haltière (Leah Giselle Field), step mother to Lucette (Amelia Daigle as Cinderella) and wife of Lucette’s father Pandolfe, played by Toronto baritone Michael Robert-Broder. The character of Pandolfe features prominently in this adaptation performing two emotional duets with Amelia Daigle’s Lucette.

Amelia Daigle and Michael Robert-Broder

Amelia Daigle and Michael Robert-Broder performing a duet during Abridged Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Mezzo-soprano Alexandra Beley and Windsor soprano Naomi Aberhard did an outstanding job as the wicked stepsisters giving great expression and humour to their performances.

Leah Giselle Field, Alexandra Beley and Naomi Aberhard

Leah Giselle Field (left) as Madame de la Haltière (the evil stepmother), and Alexandra Beley and Naomi Aberhard (as the wicked step-sisters) during Abridged Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Saskatchewan born Tenor Philip Klaassen played the melancholy Prince Charming with great effect, conveying his frustration with the attempts by his father the king (played by baritone Michael Nyby) in forcing him to choose a wife.

Philip Klaassen as Prince Charming and Amelia Daigle as Cinderella

Philip Klaassen as Prince Charming and Amelia Daigle as Cinderella in Abridged Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

The real star of course is Cinderella, and soprano Amelia Daigle turned in a phenomenal performance along with gorgeous vocals which captivated the packed theatre.

Amelia Daigle as Cinderella

Amelia Daigle as Cinderella during Abridged Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Michigander Molly Bruner was a delightful fairy godmother who along with her team of sprites gave the production its magical quality.

Molly Bruner as the Fairy Godmother

Molly Bruner as Le Fée the Fairy Godmother performing during Abridged Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

The highlight was the dream sequence in the third act, The Fairies’ Oak in which the fairies bring Cinderella and Prince Charming together in an enchanted forest and although they can’t see each other they recognize each other’s voices and sing of their love.

Philip Klaassen as Prince Charming and Amelia Daigle as Cinderella

Philip Klaassen as Prince Charming and Amelia Daigle as Cinderella in Abridged Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Nancy Armstrong and Paulette Bondy did a fabulous job with costuming, going with a 20’s theme that meshed perfectly with the architecture of the century old mansion.

According to director Erin Armstrong, the decision to set the story in the 1920’s was also a practical one that allowed for easier movement around the audience because of the slim styling of the wardrobe.

Michael Robert-Broder, Leah Giselle Field, Alexandra Beley and Naomi Aberhard

Michael Robert-Broder (left) as Pandolfe, Leah Giselle Field as Madame de la Haltière (the evil stepmother), and Alexandra Beley and Naomi Aberhard (as the wicked step-sisters) during Abridged Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Daniel Wiley and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra

Daniel Wiley (left) conducts the Windsor Symphony Orchestra during Abridged Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Abridged Opera with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra presented Jules Massenet's opera Cinderella (Cendrillon)

Abridged Opera with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra presented Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Philip Klaassen as Prince Charming and Amelia Daigle as Cinderella

Philip Klaassen as Prince Charming and Amelia Daigle as Cinderella in Abridged Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s opera Cinderella (Cendrillon) at Willistead Manor in Windsor, Ontario, on March 27, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Windsor’s first independent opera company, Abridged Opera, will continue their 2019 season of stories themed around “Charm, Chauvinism, Champagne and Chicanery,” with their upcoming productions. They include one of Mozart’s most famous operas, Don Giovanni, the exploits of Don Juan, with the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra at The Capitol Theatre (May 22 & 23).

This summer Abridged’s Champagne Gala will take place in a hay barn located at Wagner Orchards and Estate Winery. The event will feature songs about, for, or inspired by drinking, paired with wines and ciders.

During the Halloween season, Abridged Opera will perform The Medium, a one act ghost story opera performed in English.

For more information about Abridged Opera visit https://www.abridgedopera.com

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Photos by Dan Boshart

Dan Boshart is a talented photographer from Windsor, Ontario, who is looking forward to spending more time on concert photography when he retires from his full time job in the automotive industry. In addition to shooting bands, he has an interest in travel, architectural and street photography. Some of Dan’s photos can be viewed on Instagram and he can be followed on Twitter or his 27th Floor Photography Facebook Page.