La Cenerentola, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

April 5, 2018 by

This semi-staged performance of Rossini’s La Cenerentola was rich in not only vocal talent and musicianship but had clearly also given the behind-the-scenes students the opportunity to showcase their work. This is was evident in the costumes and stage props which gave the production a visual theme to match the stylistic approach from director Martin Constantine.

The conceit of the retelling of the fairy tale telling was to have an imagined tale within a tale. So La Cenerentola is indeed the neglected put upon servant in a house with an ambitious father and two feckless daughters but everything from there on in (the ball, the handsome prince, the rags to riches) is in her imagination. The opera ends where it starts, with La Cenerentola under heel.


Blaise Malaba

Lucy Mellor and Aimee Daniel

Rhodri Jones

All of the principles in this ambitious show wear costumes with pages of a book sized patches and there are towering piles of sheet of paper around which the action takes place and she these also hang from the ceiling and she scrunches up discarded ones and stuffs in to a bin bag. The shades of the standard lamps are similarly made from pages of books. The tutor / fairy godmother Alidoro shows our sort of heroine the book containing the story which she sings a few lines from as a type of character leitmotif. It is, however, all just a story.

The singers are generally studying on MA in Opera Performance at the College and there were several casts for the demanding work.

The story is updated to nowish with the sisters obsessed with taking selfies, preening themselves in front of mirrors, with the chorus being sort of secret agents (sunglasses and the ubiquitous hand to ear gestures etc but wearing track suits with letters on them, again reinforcing the theme of the story telling and book. For their identity swapping the prince Ramiro and his servant Dandini exchange a smart suit for casual leisure clothes including baseball cap (of course).

The characterisation had varying success and this is more a comment on the direction and the opera itself rather than dramatic ability of the cast members, so while, Aaron Holmes sang a secure Alidoro there was not a great deal he could do dramatically with the role. In contrast, André Henriques not only sounded the part but was also a comic delight right down to his golden underwear, taking every opportunity to dig out the humour of the role. This was also true of the two sisters who could play up the ridiculousness of their characters and Lucy Mellor and Aimee Daniel certainly did that. Fortunately they also gave impressive singing performance to match the almost slapstick comedic work.

Ramiro, Rhodri Jones, has the joy of Rossini’s elegant arias and this delightful tenor delivered them with charm and was very much the straight guy for Henriques’ punchy comedy. Christine Byrne sang and acted La Cenerentola with a feistiness rather than simpering victim, more of a Rosina, in that other rather too similar Rossini opera, than a panto Cinders and she certainly delivered on the Rossinian coloratura.

As the pathetic father Magnifico, Blaise Malaba showed he is a singer of power and potential with a smooth, flowing line, giving a rounded portrayal of this role as both a funny but also dark and disturbing, violent character.

In all of this the singers were dependent on the work from the student musicians who appeared behind them and under the baton of David Jones, the exuberance of Rossini’s score came flashing into life.


Watch out for the College’s The Magic Flute in July.



  1. In your review of RWCMD Cenerentola, you have made a serious omission in mentioning the teachers of the cast. All THREE of the female cast in the performance you reviewed study with Anne Mason, who also teaches Sophie Dicks, the Cenerentola in the other cast. Given that this information is included in the programme, I can only imagine that the reviewer failed to read the biographies of the cast.

    1. The review correctly states:

      “such splendid singer-actor tutors as”

      This does not directly state or even imply that there were not other tutors. Rather, it acknowledges there were other tutors and that they too are splendid singer-tutors.

      A reviewer can mention any, all or no tutors, depending on their reason for writing the review. This review was written to acknowledge the students’ work and this sentence was only included to demontrate the general standard of the singing achieved through training from high calibre tutors. There was no need to name all tutors as Donald and Suzanne were used as examples.

      Thanks you for interest in this review.

      As you have bothed to respond I will remove mention of tutors.

  2. Hi Mike,
    Lovely to read this review. I was present at the performance and enjoyed it. Would it be at all possible to correct the name of the bass Blaise Malaba who played Don Magnifico? There are two mentions of his name, one in the article and another as a caption to a picture. Thank you for your support!
    Hope you have had a wonderful Easter!
    Best wishes

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