Opening night was exciting from the moment I walked up the stairs of the Music Center and continued as I entered the plaza level. I could feel the excitement and magic in the air as many theatergoers including myself were back to see a live in-person performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. (Originally scheduled for the fall of 2020, Cinderella was postponed to the fall of 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Serena Malfi as Angelina (Cinderella) in LA Opera’s 2021 production of “Cinderella” (“La Cenerentola”) photo courtesy of Craig T. Mathew, LA Opera

What a fun and delightfully entertaining night! I was completely surprised to see this modern day take on Rossini’s Fairytale Romcom. It was hilarious, whimsical, romantic and heartwarming, all at once. I loved the unexpected twist of an evil and bumbling stepfather trying to foil Cinderella’s dream of true love while squandering the family fortune.

Making their debuts as the romantic leads were Italian mezzo-soprano Serena Malfi as Angelina (Cinderella) and South African tenor Levy Sekgapane as Don Ramiro, her prince charming.  Malfi gave a joyful and commanding performance. Sekgapane was mesmerizing and his stage presence, undeniable.

The setting is sometime in the 1950s or ‘60s at the home of down-and-out Don Magnifico, Cinderella’s pompous stepfather played by Italian baritone Alessandro Corbelli, who gave a wonderful and comical performance. This period is in contrast to the outlandish, bright, pink costumes and wigs of the 19th century, from Rossini’s time, worn by the courtiers of Prince Don Ramiro.

Levy Sekgapane as Don Ramiro in LA Opera’s 2021 production of “Cinderella” (“La Cenerentola”); photo courtesy of Craig T. Mathew, LA Opera

The bratty and nasty stepsisters, Clorinda and Tisbe, performed by American soprano Erica Petrocelli and Mexican mezzo-soprano Gabriela Flores were so fun to watch, and I enjoyed their performances as well.

Artfully directed by Laurent Pelly who also designed the whimsical costumes, working in collaboration with Jean-Jacques Delmotte, I was captivated by the spectacular singing, the masterful conducting by Roberto Abbado, the beautiful fantasy-filled scenery by Chantal Thomas, dramatic lighting design by Duane Schuler and fabulous chorus direction by Grant Gershon.

Other standout performances include Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov as the prince’s comical valet Dandini, and Italian bass Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Alidoro, Cinderella’s mysterious benefactor (or rather her Fairy Godfather.)

The performance was in Italian with English supertitles and was very easy to follow along. All in all, it was a fantastic night and a truly delightful and witty production!

“Cinderella” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion runs through December 12, 2021. For more information, go to