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IU Opera presents 'Cinderella story' "Cendrillon"

In a show that's sure to engage and inspire Cinderella fans of all ages, IU Opera Theater presents a new production of Jules Massenet's Cendrillon (Cinderella), based on the original fairy tale, on Feb. 6, 7, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. in Bloomington's Musical Arts Center.

09 Cendrillon 1
Jacobs School of Music 1992 production of "Cendrillon"

Guest directed by Chuck Hudson, guest conducted by Ronald Zollman and designed by Jacobs School of Music Professor C. David Higgins, Cendrillon is set in 18th-century France, and will be chock-full of visual effects to help create a magical environment.

The opera will also feature dancers from IU Ballet Theater, choreographed by Ballet Department Chair Michael Vernon. In his fourth production with IU Opera Theater, Vernon will choreograph the lavish ballroom scene.

Hudson said that the concept of the show is to mine all the imagery from the Cinderella tale seen as a vestige of a feminine initiation ritual, presenting a young woman's coming-of-age in a world devoid of positive feminine role models -- much like Alice in Wonderland is the story of a young girl becoming a woman.

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Set designer Professor C. David Higgins paints part of the "Cendrillon" set.

"Like Alice in Wonderland or even Pink Floyd's The Wall," Hudson continued, "we will be exploiting a dream-like exaggeration -- a visual and emotional intoxication with everything. To do this, we will be specifically looking at the manner in which dream reality invades and interpenetrates actual reality in the show. We are embracing a cold and period-correct reality for Cendrillon's home, a gilded and opulent reality for the palace, and a surrealistic and dreamlike reality for the woods and fairy sequences."

This is no small task for a designer, but Higgins is up to the challenge. In fact, it is well within his comfort zone, said the professional designer of almost 40 years.

"My job is to create an environment in which a story can be told, an environment that the director has in mind," explained Higgins.

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Higgins' drawing of Cinderella's carriage

Higgins will employ many techniques that he is well known for, including scenery changes in view of the audience, enabling the scenery to take on a persona of its own.

"Our aim is to make this a visually stunning and dramatically compelling story to accompany the delightful and delicious musical demands of the show," said Hudson. "We will be presenting the singers with performance challenges one might not expect to have in such a piece and combining it with the musical and language challenges inherent in the production as it is written and composed."

Tickets for the Feb. 6 show, which is general admission, are $25 ($12 for students). Tickets for all other performances range from $15-$35 ($10-$20 for students). The Musical Arts Center box office hours are Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To contact the box office, call 812-855-7433.

To learn more about the IU Opera Theater, visit music.indiana.edu/opera.