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La Cenerentola (Cinderella): Synopsis of the Opera


Act 1


Angelina (Cinderella) is forced to work as maid in the run-down house of her stepfather Don Magnifico. While his two mean, idle daughters, Clorinda and Tisbe, try on their gowns and jewellery, Cinderella sings a ballad about a king who in choosing his wife he preferred innocence and goodness to pomp. A beggar comes calling. Clorinda and Tisbe brutally send him away, but Cinderella offers him bread and coffee. Courtiers arrive to announce that Prince Ramiro is looking for the most beautiful girl in the land to be his bride, and is on his way to pay them a visit. Prince Ramiro arrives, disguised as his own valet in order to observe the women without them knowing. He is immediately struck with admiration for Cinderella and she for him. Cinderella has to leave when her stepsisters call her. Don Magnifico is told that Prince Ramiro will arrive soon. The "Prince" is actually Dandini, Ramiro's valet, who arrives accompanied by some courtiers. The stepsisters fawn gleefully over the supposed prince, who invites them to a ball at the Royal palace. Don Magnifico does not allow Cinderella to accompany them to the ball, despite her pleading. Before leaving, Prince Ramiro notices how badly Cinderella is treated. His tutor, Alidoro, who had been at the house of Don Magnifico earlier disguised as a beggar, arrives and asks for Don Magnifico's third daughter. Magnifico answers that she is dead. Alidoro reveals himself as a member of Prince Ramiro’s court. He then tells Cinderella that he will accompany her to the ball and that heaven will reward her pure heart. The stepsisters and Don Magnifico arrive at Prince Ramiro's palace, where Dandini still poses as the Prince. He invites Magnifico to the Palace’s wine cellar, hoping to get him drunk. He then disentangles himself from the family and tells Prince Ramiro how stupid and obnoxious the two sisters are. The Prince is confused since Alidoro had spoken well of one of Magnifico's daughters. Clorinda and Tisbe impatiently pressure Dandini, the supposed prince, to declare his "princely" choice. He ponders the question "Whom will the rejected sister marry?" and suggests Ramiro as a possible husband. Believing Ramiro to be a mere valet, the two sisters reject him as a despicable choice and insult him to his face. Alidoro announces the arrival of an unknown, lavishly dressed yet veiled, lady (Cinderella). Everybody senses something familiar about her. They feel as if they were in a dream but on the verge of being awakened with a shock.

 

Act 2

 

Don Magnifico, Clorinda, and Tisbe are still in Ramiro's palace. Magnifico frets over the unknown woman who threatens the chance for one of his daughters to marry Prince Ramiro. The three leave while Ramiro seems completely smitten with the unknown woman who resembles the girl he had met that morning. He conceals himself and listens to the dialogue when Dandini still disguised as the Prince tries to court Cinderella. She turns the supposed prince down politely, explaining that she is in love with his valet. Ramiro steps forth and declares his love for her. She then leaves giving him one of a pair of matching bracelets saying that if he really cares for her, he will find her. Encouraged by Alidoro, Prince Ramiro calls his men together to begin searching for her. Meanwhile, Dandini reveals to Don Magnifico the truth about himself being Prince Ramiro's valet. Magnifico becomes highly indignant, and Dandini orders him out of the palace. At Magnifico's house, Cinderella, once again dressed in rags, is tending the fire and singing her ballad. Magnifico and his daughters return from the ball in a vile mood, and order Cinderella to prepare their supper. While a thunderstorm rages Dandini, in his real function as a valet, appears to say that Prince Ramiro's carriage has overturned outside and brings him into the house. Cinderella now realizes that the man she loves is Prince Ramiro himself while the Prince recognizes her bracelet and the couple is reunited. Don Magnifico, Clorinda and Tisbe are furious. Angered by their cruelty to Cinderella, Prince Ramiro threatens to punish them, but Cinderella asks him to be merciful. As she leaves with her prince, Alidoro thanks heaven for the happy outcome. In the throne room of Ramiro's palace, Magnifico tries to carry favour with his stepdaughter, the new princess, but she only wishes to be acknowledged as his daughter. Cinderella asks the prince to forgive Magnifico and the two stepsisters. Now her father and stepsisters embrace her while she declares that her days of toiling by the fire are over.