Lyric Opera stages French Cinderella production for 1st time in 107 years

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The Lyric Opera of Chicago debuts a new production of Cinderella Saturday night for the holidays.

The Lyric Opera of Chicago debuts a new production of Cinderella Saturday night for the holidays.

It has all the magical traditions of the story we all know, but there's an unexpected twist in this French production.

Cendrillon, French for Cinderella , is the Lyric Opera's holiday treat. But don't expect this to be a serious retelling of the familiar fairy tale. It stars Australian soprano Siobhan Stagg in her Lyric debut.

"I've not played Cinderella in this opera before," Stagg said. "I guess it's the childhood dream of many people - it's really a wonderful role to play."

There's gender-bending in this French opera. Since its 1810 Paris debut, the part of the prince has been played by a woman.

"It's written specifically in this opera for it's a soprano voice and a mezzo voice, just the slightly lower voice and slightly higher voice we sing together," said Alice Coote, who plays the prince. "And we sing our big high climaxes together and we meld in these amazing duets. I think that's why it's written like this."

Visually, the production has eye-popping sets, 120 wigs and costumes inspired by Paris Fashion Week but with crazy twists.

"If you've never come to the opera before this is the one to come to," Coote said. "I mean is the best story or what. Is this Cinderella. Do we have the best costumes, the best set and the best lighting, the best music the best duets. The best everything!"

Cendrillon runs through January 20th at the Lyric. It's only other Chicago performance was in 1911. So you might want to hurry and see it before another 107 years go by.
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