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Photo: Barbe & Douchet


Rossini’s Cinderella has gone into orbit as regietheatre of unprecedented proportions at Hamburg’s Staatsoper, where the striking Canadian creative team Barbe & Doucet have transplanted the classic fairytale into a retro-futuristic robot future cut straight out of Frits Lang’s Metropolis aesthetic with an untamable array of crazy costumes and wacky antics.

The musical and entertainment level is unquestionable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it, and it must have cost a fortune to put this production together with the overwhelming abundance of crazy costumes, bizarre set pieces and funny props.

Some would argue that the staging is far, far too much of a good thing and an infantile vandalization of the original work’s intention. Rossini’s music is the epitome of Italian ga-da-gung ga-da-gung ga-da gung opera, blasting across the stage at breakneck speed – and one might even say that it plays itself up to the antics.

Cinderella takes place in a futuristic-cartoonish, Teletubbies-like setting, where the cast is equipped with antennae hats, space suits, insect-like lower bodies and sharply cut space age fashion in silver fabrics with sharp lines, dots, dots, dots, gizmos and lots of bright colors.

Robots with long, funny arms and glorious turntable camera eyes are constantly whizzing around the stage in a retro design that looks like a cross between a Jules Verne diving bell and a 1920s toaster. A ballet is performed on roller skates and it all ends with Cinderella and the prince flying off on honeymoon in a space rocket, decorated, of course, in the red-checked look immortalized by Hergé.

An opera show that premiered in 2011 and has been revived several times to the undivided delight of the Hamburg audience. Time and time again, the astonished audience interrupts with warm applause and loud laughter. 

Of course, the original story cannot be squeezed into Barbe & Douchet’s stringent, spectacular future universe without a lot of creative, radical modifications, which I think you get away with very well.

Cinderella isn’t that deep – and this Italian buffa  doesn’t suffer from the fact that it’s well fuelled.

Musically, you’ll especially enjoy the assured treatment of Rossini’s breathless quartets, quintets and sextets, where the cast sing in each other’s mouths in magnificent ensemble pieces like those you know from The Barber of Seville.

A swirling vocal opera circus that is an equilibristic and wild live experience. 

Five stars from GOT TO SEE THIS for a super entertaining, hyper-extemporized version of Cinderella that you can’t help but fall in love with.