Hillman Opera presents take on ‘Cinderella’ at SUNY Fredonia

The Hillman Opera will present two performances of Gioachino Rossini’s famous work “La Cenerentola” (Cinderella) this November at SUNY Fredonia.

This will be a staged concert version of the classic opera, sung in the original Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage. Performances will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday in King Concert Hall.

The annual Hillman Opera is a collaborative effort between the SUNY Fredonia School of Music, Department of Theatre and Dance and the Hillman Memorial Music Association.

“The music of Rossini is unique and very difficult for both singers and instrumentalists,” Hillman Producer Julie Newell said. “He writes with an effervescent style, many melismatic phrases and a wide vocal range. The perpetual energy of his style has brought him universal acclaim throughout his life and long beyond. Rossini was a ‘rock star’ of his generation.”

Rossini completed the score for “La Cenerentola” in only three weeks, a fact Newell described as “an astounding feat when listening to all the material he created. He was the most famous composer in Italy, and even the future great Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi was in awe of his work and his achievements.”

This year’s cast features singers from the School of Music vocal program including Hillman Opera veterans Amanda Bottoms of Cheektowaga as Cenerentola, Lorenzo Parnell of Rochester as Prince Ramiro, Makoto Winkler of Seaford, N.Y., as Don Magnifico, Michael Hawk of Silver Creek as Dandini, Cody Ray Caho of Wellsville as Alidoro, Aubrey Warner of Clarence as one of the “nasty” stepsisters Clorinda, and Allison Deady of Rochester as her counterpart, Tisbe.

The story of “La Cenerentola” follows the line of the familiar fairy tale with some notable differences. Cinderella has a stepfather rather than a stepmother and the fairy godmother role falls to the character of Alidoro, the prince’s tutor. Prince Ramiro’s valet Dandini takes on a significant role.

In addition, there is no glass slipper in “La Cenerentola.” Instead, a pair of diamond bracelets is used by the couple to find each other again after the ball has ended.

The Hillman Opera of SUNY Fredonia began as a community-campus collaboration in the early 1950s, and has continued today in the model of a professional opera company. Alumni of the Hillman Opera have appeared on stages worldwide and serve as opera educators in conservatories and university programs throughout the United States and beyond.

This year’s production includes more than 100 students. In addition to a cast of seven, there are more than 30 ensemble members and the Fredonia Opera Orchestra, with more than 60 student members. In addition, the production is supported by a backstage crew of 35 students.

The annual opera production team also includes a number of SUNY Fredonia faculty members. In addition to Newell, there is Music Director Dr. David Rudge, Stage Director Paul Mockovak and Vocal Coach and Repetiteur Shinobu Takagi. Newell said the opera “would not be possible without the leadership of a strong Theatre technical faculty, including David Stellhorn, Todd Proffitt, Laurel Walford and Max Zorn.”

Tickets for “La Cenerentola” are available through the SUNY Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 and online at fredonia.edu/tickets.