Close, but no pumpkin!

Stage Director STAN PRETTY on the Cinderella story we all think we know:

When our Cinderella was written in the early 19th century, the limitations of staging the supernatural coloured the telling of the famous fairy tale Cendrillon by Charles Perrault. Gone were the fairy godmother, the pumpkin, the coach, the glass slipper and much with which we are all familiar. Instead of a wicked stepmother was a curmudgeonly stepfather and instead of the godmother was a wise tutor of the Prince called Alidoro. However (spoiler alert!) Cinderella does win her prince and all live happily ever after. Another addition was Dandini, familiar to us all from the pantomime versions we have all been raised on.

In this fun-filled, tuneful and touching opera, as well as these large variations on the story we all think we know, there was the added challenge of incorporating Kennet Opera's female chorus – as the original does not have one! (Apparently the commissioning house at the time didn't have a sufficient female chorus.) I wanted to maintain the glorious fairytale element of both the original story and Rossini's version, as well as its tender and heart-warming love story, and so, if we couldn't have one fairy godmother – well, let's have a lot! Our Alidoro is more than a tutor; he is a Merlin-type figure who controls the action, with the help of his student fairies.

And why the 1930s, you may wonder. Well, in that decade we did have a prince who was a dream catch for all the girls. However, that story didn't end quite so happily… Rossini's Cenerentola is awash with glorious ensemble pieces and is, therefore, a wonderful opportunity for Kennet Opera's chorus to shine. It also gives four of the company's regular chorus members a chance to extend their range by taking on the challenging roles of the 'ugly' sisters, Clorinda and Tisbe; the tutor Alidoro; and that grumpy stepfather Don Magnifico.

And amongst this wealth of tuneful melodies and tender, lyrical moments are two famous bel canto arias – one from Prince Ramiro which was heard recently at the Last Night of the Proms sung by Juan Diego Florez, and the other Cinderella's famous non piu mesta, a favourite of the world's leading mezzo-sopranos which concludes the opera.