A different take on a classic

When most people hear “Cinderella,” they likely think of the beloved, heartwarming Disney film filled with catchy songs, pumpkins and adorable mice.

While this may be the case, the UND Department of Music has taken on a different approach by working on a rendition of the historic fable many students are not entirely familiar with.

This story is “Cendrillon,” an opera based on the French folktale of Cinderella created by French composer Jules Massenet.

Magic and enchantment still encompass this vibrant cultural production of “Cinderella,” but the opera intertwines a new element of French culture and language.

Students have been hard at work preparing for their performances of “Cendrillon” taking place this weekend at the Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks.

“Cendrillon” is the first full-length foreign opera to be performed in Grand Forks since the Metropolitan Opera House downtown closed more than a hundred years ago.

Haley Lund, who plays the role of La Fée, or The Fairy Godmother, expressed how the experience working with “Cendrillon” has been both challenging and rewarding.

“Before ‘Cendrillon,’ I had minimal knowledge of French language and the French culture,” Lund said. “When I received the role of La Fée, I was very nervous to take on so much French, but after a lot of practicing, I have developed so many new skills and feel I have a great foundation for preparing a role in French in the future.”

While overcoming the
language barrier, many cast members also were challenged by the vocal intricacy of the music.

Students prepared for months to get all notes and rhythms comfortable within their voices.

With theatrical music and costume, Assistant Production Manager Jace Erickson hopes that students are not intimidated by the opera aspect of the play and will instead be able to walk away with a new appreciation of opera.

“We hope that bringing in an audience familiar with Cinderella will help them adjust to the opera art form more comfortably, and realize that opera isn’t as inaccessible as some people might initially assume,” Erickson said.

Even though the production is entirely in French, “Cendrillon” still allows the audience to see all their favorite characters that they know and love.

“It will be exciting for the
audience to see these characters from a different cultural perspective,”
Erickson says. “It’s the same story, but with a different storyteller.”

Erickson also hopes people can find themselves enjoying
Massenet’s music even more than the Disney version, as the plot has more depth and the music is more complex.

“I hope that people see ‘Cendrillon’ and take away a deeper appreciation for the medium and the many ways that it can enhance a story,” Erickson said.

The show will be in French with projected English text. Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Doors open 30 minutes before curtain, and tickets will only be available at the door.

If students are interested in purchasing tickets, they can do so at the Empire Arts Center box
office the day of the show.

The cost is $20 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors.

Lund and other cast members encourage all students to stop by and check out the enchanting production.

“‘Cendrillon’ will have a beautiful set, wonderful music, great acting and fun costumes,” Lund said. “Plus, the music is absolutely gorgeous, and the story will captivate the listener.”

Even if students are unsure about stepping into the world of foreign opera, Lund was optimistic that the evening will be full of fun and new experiences.

“The opera scene is exciting, and everyone can enjoy the fairytale of Cinderella,” Lund said. “I hope that students can take away a greater appreciation for this art form, after joining us at the Empire this weekend.”

Amanda Hefner is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]