The Lyric Stage February 21 - Pauline Viardrot's "Cendrillon"
Pauline Viardot (1821-1910) ran a salon in Paris for decades with the original score of Don Giovanni on display, and Rossini genuflected to it. Tchaikovsky was another of the many notables who attended the salon. She was a close friend of Chopin, Franz Liszt and Ivan Turgenev. Her parents and siblings were also known and notable musicians, and she herself was a singer, a pianist, a teacher and composer.
It's Viardot's salon and her skills as a composer that we focus on this week (03-18-18). Composers often wrote short operas for salons in the 19th c., featuring small casts and piano accompaniment. The composition date is uncertain, but in 1904 at age 83, she presented her one act opera Cendrillon at her salon. The libretto is basically the same as the original story, but takes a lighter approach than the fairy tale and other operatic adaptations. For example, the evil stepmother is replaced with a bumbling and clueless stepfather in line with a host of bumbling clueless operatic bass-buffos. But the incognito prince, the jealous stepsisters, the fairy godmother who helps Cinderella go to the ball in a magically transformed coach, and the happy ending are all there, but with much less of an edge.