- La cenerentola (Cinderella), opera
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Aside from being Rossini's version of the Cinderella story, La Cenerentola could be seen as the Cinderella among the composer's operas: Overshadowed for nearly two centuries by The Barber of Seville and other comic masterpieces, Cenerentola has more recently come into its own as one of Rossini's warmest and most satisfying works. This 1971 recording played a major role in bringing the opera's beauty to light, and it makes a welcome mid-price return to the catalogue with this reissue. The sparkling wit of Claudio Abbado's conducting -- in the first opera recording he led -- is one source of its success, especially in the dizzily accelerating finale to Act I, but what recommends it most strongly is Teresa Berganza's performance in the title role. One of the most justly celebrated singers of the 1960s and '70s, Berganza excelled in many roles, but her portrayals of Rossini's feisty heroines were peerless, combining a thrilling technical perfection with an unusual depth of characterization. In recent times, only Cecilia Bartoli has mounted a real challenge to Berganza, but while Bartoli's version works as a well-deserved star vehicle, Berganza and Abbado's boasts a thoroughly strong ensemble cast, with wonderfully funny buffo turns from Renato Capecchi and Ugo Trama as the Prince's valet and tutor, and from Margherita Guglielmi and Laura Zannini as the disagreeable stepsisters. Much like his recordings as Count Almaviva in Barber of Seville, tenor Luigi Alva is a stylish, refined leading man, sympathetic in his own right but wise enough to allow Berganza the lion's share of the spotlight. Still sounding as if it had been recorded yesterday, this Cenerentola deserves a distinguished place in any opera collection.