To Glyndebourne for a study day on the new Glyndebourne Touring Opera production of Massenet's Cendrillon (Cinderella). I didn't know what to expect and the "Study Day" title and the lecture hall like surroundings of the Ebert Room made me fear that it might be a rather serious and worthy way to spend a beautiful early October Sunday. I needn't have worried. Warwick Thompson's amusing introduction (and indeed his golden butterfly encrusted shirt and black and white striped trousers) soon banished that idea. Kate Romano's talk on fairy stories was detailed and learned (and would make an excellent article in an opera programme) but was delivered without too much gravity. After coffee Christopher Cook used his mellifluous tones in a fascinating disquisition on Massenet and his ideas, both generally and in Cendrillon. Massenet (like Richard Strauss later) was in love with women's voices and the opera was an opportunity to use them in all their variety. Cook was very scathing of a modern tendency to give the role of the prince to a tenor. He also mentioned Massenet's to borrowings from other composers (Handel, Lully, Mendelssohn and Wagner) not as plagiarism but as a deliberate reflection of history.
An advantage of visiting Glyndebourne on a beautiful day but not during the festival is to have the opportunity to picnic without the crowds. Mrs. M.A.E. and I found a wooden bench in a little bower where, accompanied only by a gamboling squirrel, a robin, and a young collared dove learning to fly, we enjoyed smoked salmon sandwiches washed down with Laurent Perrier.
The afternoon started with a rehearsal lead by Assistant Director Fiona Dunn.with two of the cover singers, Jennifer Witton (Cendrillon) and John Mackenzie-Lavansch (Pandolfe, Cendrillon's father). The pianist was Kate Golla. It was instructive to see how important the lack of eye-contact was in their reconciliation scene. The day was rounded off with a panel discussion from all of the participants. Your Man is now well prepared to report for you from the late afternoon performance on Sunday 28th October.