Saturday, November 14, 2009

La Cenerentola: Performer's Perspective

Here's a short piece sitting in my draft pile and I need to move it out, so here it is, as it is.

Thought I'd share one performer's perspective on playing Cinderella...

Found in The appeal of 'La Cenerentola', mezzo-soprano Betany Coffland answer questions about playing Cinderella in the opera for the San Jose Opera.

Q What do you love about this role?

A It's been interesting for me to ask, "Why has this story of this young girl in unfortunate circumstances — why has it resonated for so many cultures, through so many centuries?"

She's a good person, and sometimes a clumsy person. She's audacious at times. She gets distressed and angry, and it all makes her real. I think we're all attracted to the inherent sweetness and genuine goodness of Cinderella. She knows what's important in life.

Q Specifically?

A It's this idea of karma, in a way, that you put good things out there and good things happen in return. And I think this idea resonates with all of us. We want to believe that good behavior is rewarded.

Q Is it a contemporary story? Is it relevant, or just a fairy tale?

A It's both contemporary and age-old. It's like Shakespeare; we do his plays over and over again, because they hold the keys to what we as humans are interested in watching play out in drama.

In the opera, Cinderella's stepsisters and stepfather — they're completely greedy. We all have aspects of that in us, along with the humor and the clumsiness we see in the opera. That's why we keep coming back to opera, because we recognize ourselves. It may be exaggerated, but it's real.

Q How does Cinderella change over the course of the opera?

A She learns to trust herself more. I think that when you live through a big experience and you come out the other side still holding onto those values that you had going into it, that gives you a new sense of confidence and renewal.

I often enjoy performers' interpretations of their roles, learning their thoughts about the role since they have to be the character to entertain us well.

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