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See past programs:      May 2023     August 2023       October 2023

May 31st and June 1st 2024

About the Composer

Pauline Viardot (1821-1904), a leading nineteenth-century French mezzo-soprano, pedagogue and composer was born in Paris to the Garcías, a Spanish opera family led by her father, tenor, singing teacher, composer and impresario Manuel García. After her father's death in 1832 her mother, soprano Joaquína Sitchez, began teaching voice to Viardot, and would not allow her to continue to focus on piano but required her to take voice lessons seriously. She remained an excellent pianist all her life and often played duets with her friend Frédéric Chopin (who approved of her arranging some of his mazurkas as songs). 

She wrote over one hundred vocal compositions and three salon operas. Her opera Cendrillon was premiered in 1904. 

Reference: Harris, Rachel M. “Introduction.” Cendrillon (Cinderella). Hammond, LA: Scena Music Publishing, 2013.

About the Opera

Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon is a retelling of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale, composed in an operetta style combining musical numbers and dialogues, and intended for salon style chamber performances.

Instead of a step-mother, this story has the foolish Baron de Pictordu, with his two vain daughters, Maguelone and Armelinde, that are both after the Prince. After an invitation to the palace for a grand ball arrives, Maguelone and Armelinde prepare for such a wonderful event. Marie, who they call ‘Cendrillon’ is left behind while everyone else attends the ball.


Hearing her sad song, La Fée (the fairy godmother) appears and promises to make Cendrillon’s dreams come true: she will go to the ball. Meanwhile, the Prince and his good friend Count Barigoule swap places to test out the true natures of the potential brides. A mysterious stranger appears at the ball, and she and the Prince fall in love at first sight, but will he be able to find her again when she runs away at midnight?

In her retelling of this well-loved story, Viardot seems to reference both Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Massenet’s Cendrillon, to create this charming, rather under-appreciated, work.

Reference: Silvester, Wendy. “Cendrillon (Viardot) (Opera) Plot & Characters.” StageAgent. Accessed May 14, 2024.

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