Cinderella – the shoe fits


For the 2 nasty stepsisters, the shoe didn’t fit.  For us it did.

We saw a magnificent production of Cendrillon (Cinderella) by Massenet at the Opera Comique the other night.  As wonderful a performance as we’ve ever seen of an opera anywhere. The theatre is a jewel:  Parisian, intimate, perfectly 19th Century, and elegant.

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The Opera Comique is in a building constructed in 1898 in a small square in the 2nd arrondissment.

A little history: The company originated in 1714. In 1840, the Opéra Comique company settled in the second Salle Favart (named for the librettist – then considered more important than the composer - Charles-Simon Favart who wrote for the Opera for forty years).

The 1500 seat second Salle Favart, built on the site of the first theatre, was destroyed by fire in 1838, only to be destroyed by another fire on 25 May 1887. Its third incarnation was inaugurated on 7 December 1898.

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 The Opéra Comique staged the first performances of such important French works as Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust (1846), Thomas’ Mignon (1866), and Bizet’s Carmen (1875). It premiered new pieces of  Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann (1881); Delibes’ Lakmé (1883); Massenet’s Manon (1884), Esclarmonde (1889), and Werther (French premiere in 1893); and Charpentier’s Louise (1900).

  Our inauguration to the Opera Comique was Cendrillon.


The costumes were gloriously outlandish, but perfect for each role, the voices exquisite, the acting playful and lively, the orchestra never once running over the singers. The old story was made fresh both by the performers and a rapt audience.

We shared the box with a French gentleman, an opera lover for over 50 years.  He was pleased that we had so enjoyed the performance and suggested (in appropriately slow and well articulated French), that we should not miss the next production which was  the Carl Marie von Weber opera, Le Freischütz, an opera we did not know.


 le-freischutz.jpgLe Freischütz,  (the Hector Berlioz version)  was to be performed the second week in April. We were looking for seats not only for ourselves, but for a friend who was coming to Paris in April. Opera Comique would be the perfect taste of Paris. Curiously, many who live in Paris have not been there.

We came home and immediately went online to get tickets for the next production. Alas, no tickets for any performance. A call to the box office the next morning and E’s usual, “pardon me I don’t speak French” speech (in French) got him nowhere.  The respondent spoke no English.

Later that night E sent an email to Opera Comique extolling the performance of Cendrillon and explaining he couldn’t get seats to Le Freischütz, which we fervently wanted to see and requesting information for next year’s abonnés (series tickets).

The next day Sonja called from Opera Comique. She spoke English as she had spent a year at William and Mary College in Virginia. A long conversation  about Cendrillon, Opera Comique and Paris and Sonja found three seats in a center box right behind the orchestra.

Some believe things are written in the stars, some believe we make our karma.  It feels as if Paris has opened her heart to us.


One Response to “Cinderella – the shoe fits”

  1. Persistence helps, too. Like an oyster shell?

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