Opera North have left the very best until last in their fairy tale season.

Cinderella is a tale as old as time. I have seen it in so many guises as a pantomime, cartoon, grand film, musical, play, ballet and even on ice! I have also seen the opera produced and set in the very traditional way. However Aletta Collins’s production blows them all away as a stage production.

She’s brought it right up into the 21st century even to using a “strictly” theme and setting it in a ballroom dance academy and unleashed a veritable feast of wonderful characters.

There’s not a glass slipper or pumpkin in sight and definitely no Fairy Godmother. Instead a pair of bracelets, the prince’s tutor with a case of different costumes and pictures of intended bride’s for the prince brought in by seemingly dating agency staff.

Anyone who has ever attended or indeed taught at a dancing class as I have done will  more than appreciate Collins opening. Its so right the adoring Saturday morning mums, precocious children and even  the glamorous  well to do mum  who gives the biggest fee plus a little extra in the hope her child will be put on the front line. She has attention to detail more than one hundred per cent right especailly when it comes to characterisation – indeed when it comes to everything in the production.

But Collins secret weapon is the fact she is also a choreographer as well as director which gives a production such as this a special edge and a depth that it needs. It’s frothy, fabulously funny and moves along as a break-neck pace.

Set designer Giles Cadle has one again scored top marks with his set that’s fluid and gives mood to the production combined with expert lighting and video once again Opera North have achieved a technical masterpiece.

Veteran conductor, Wyn Davies literally commands the orchestra with a gentle wave of his baton. His expertise and the fact he is not afraid of break-neck speeds are commendable and more than a major asset in this opera.

It would be hard to single out any particular artist in this production as each achieves maximum potential in their roles.

However Sky Ingram(Clorinda) and Amy J Payne (Tisbe) as Cinderella’s sisters are total convincing and amazing without overplaying the comedic side of their roles.

Wallis Giaunta’s Cinderella has both pathos and depth but most of all her ability to suddenly pop out a range of coloratura notes as she does is totally mind blowing.

And no review would be complete without mentioned the stalwart chorus of Opera North who always amaze with their multifarious talents, footwork and characterization.

Cinderella is an opera that will be loved by both primary school children and bus pass wielding pensioners alike. As a production to attract the new generation of audiences this is pure gold. I only wish when my ex-opera singer mother was trying to interest me in opera at an early age this production had been around, then I wouldn’t have had the long wait until my late 20’s to become an opera lover.

Cinderella is at Leeds Grand Theatre and then tours to Salford, Newcastle, Nottingham and Belfast.

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