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Geneva Light Opera presents “La Cenerentola” on stage at the Smith Opera House in July

Geneva Light Opera presents Gioachino Rossini’s take on the classic Cinderella story, “La Cenerentola,” this summer in the historic Smith Opera House. This new storybook production, directed by Steve Vaughan, will be conducted by acclaimed maestro Eric Mahl — both making their company debuts with this piece — and stars sensational mezzo-soprano Sarah Nordin in the title role and renowned Metropolitan Opera basso and Nickel City Opera founder/artistic director Valerian Ruminski as Don Magnifico, her wicked stepfather.

Can goodness trump selfishness and vanity? A trapped and tender-hearted Cenerentola cooks and cleans for her buffoonish stepfather and her snooty stepsisters while she dreams of a better life. When two visitors arrive at her home – a prince disguised as his own servant and the prince’s servant disguised as a beggar – she shows them the kindness that no one else in the house will. Fate rewards her with an invitation to the ball where the prince will choose his bride. Is there a happy ending in store for her?

Three performances are scheduled from July 29 through August 1 in the acoustically-superb Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St., in downtown Geneva. Curtain time is 7:30 on Thursday, July 29, and 3:00 on Saturday and Sunday, July 31 and August 1. All seats are in the orchestra and can be purchased for $25 at or at the door. Live streaming options are also available on the website for $25.

The cast also features rising tenor tenor Esteban Zúñiga Calderón as Don Ramiro, the charming Prince of Salerno. Returning favorites Michelle Seipel and Emily Hughes play Cenerentola’s cruel stepsisters, Clorinda and Tisbe. Baritone Brian Keith Johnson sings the role of Dandini, the Prince’s valet and confidant, and basso Tyler Putnam returns to Geneva in the role of Alidoro, the Prince’s tutor, who manages to add a philosophical twist to this classic tale. Conducting the singers and a reduced orchestral ensemble of piano and strings is Eric Mahl with the musical collaboration of Christian Capocaccia in a carefully cultivated version of the acclaimed opera that runs 95 minutes with one fifteen minute intermission.

Yes, it has been trimmed to keep audiences and artists safe,” noted GLO board member Marilyn Watson. “But the beloved Cinderella story is back, along with the magical interaction of audience and performer that has been stifled for more than a year!” The production was postponed from last summer due to the pandemic.
Don’t expect fairy godmothers and glass slippers. Charles Perrault’s famous fairy tale is stripped of all supernatural characters and events. According to librettist Jacopo Ferretti, this was done to please the Roman audience who disdained “children’s tales.” Cenerentola here suffers indignities from her stepfather and stepsisters, but still retains her kindness, charm, and interest in the latest fashions. The slipper is replaced by a bracelet (in order to comply with the then current moral standards and not show the ankle), by which the Prince recognizes Cenerentola at the end of the opera.

Ferretti and Rossini spent just over one month working on the opera, beginning work December 23, 1816, with a premiere on January 27, 1817. Rossini composed “La Cenerentola” after the great success of his work “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (“The Barber of Seville”), which Geneva Light Opera presented in 2018.

“‘La Cenerentola’ is the perfect family-friendly opera, and a great production for the first-time opera-goer,” said Geneva Light Opera General Director Gena Rangel. “It is a bright and heartwarming piece about true love and generosity of spirit, and we can’t wait to share it. Finally!”

Soaring arias, ensembles, and outlandish hijinks abound in this hilarious yet touching version of the famous story.

The entire production will be performed in English, and English supertitles will again be projected above the stage in The Smith.

Rossini’s delightful version of the enduring fairy tale shows that virtue does triumph and kindness can make your dreams come true, even without a fairy godmother and a glass slipper.

Geneva Light Opera’s mission is to inspire, educate and entertain Finger Lakes audiences by presenting quality operatic productions through collaboration of young performers, local professionals and nationally known artists.

This production of “La Cenerentola” is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts’ Decentralization Program, administered locally by Finger Lakes Community Arts Grants, and by the Williams Family Foundation, American Landmark Festivals, and the Nelson B. Delavan Foundation.