Los Angeles Opera wheeled into its final three performances of Rossini’s “Cinderella” Wednesday night with a new Cinderella toiling amid her cadre of lovable, helpful rats. She is the Georgian mezzo-soprano Ketevan Kemoklidze -- yet another winner of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition to appear on the L.A. Opera stage (her debut), and also somewhat of a contrast to the previous Cinderella, Kate Lindsey.
This Cinderella registered a distinctive vocal presence with a Slavic accent (which lessened as the performance unfolded) and a large vibrato, but also a solid bottom end soaring to a lovely, exciting top that had little trouble being heard in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Kemoklidze sported a wider dramatic range than her predecessor, light on her feet and whimsical when playing with the rats, yet also able to express convincing anguish and pathos at the drop of a hat.
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She brought something different to the role when appearing as the mysterious veiled beauty at the ball -- an imperiousness that suggested there was always a potential princess within Cinderella. And through that heavy vibrato, she displayed good control over the florid coloratura flights that Rossini threw at her in her final, formidable aria that closes Act II.
This was the fourth performance of “Cinderella” for the rest of the cast -- and a returning listener could hear a tightening and refining of all but the most difficult ensemble passages from that of the performance on opening night. Tenor René Barbera’s Don Ramiro in particular was more impressively on target, and baritone Vito Priante’s Dandini had the best control over the rapid-fire patter.
Propelled by James Conlon’s sparkling pace in the pit, the cast was able to project out into the orchestra seats more effectively than on opening night, learning how to overcome sets that tended to swallow up voices.
All of which proves once again that it is often better to attend performances further on in the run.
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Los Angeles Opera: “Cinderella;” Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown L.A.; 2 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. April 13; $81-$298; (213) 972-8001 or www.laopera.com
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