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‘Cendrillon’ beckons in the return of opera at Rollins College 

Photo submitted by Dr. Mohr

When a classic tale is retold, many can’t help but feel nostalgia while watching it. Those who attended the Rollins Music Department production of “Cendrillon” had the chance to experience that feeling. From March 21 through March 24, the department put on the timeless story of “Cendrillon,” the French translation of “Cinderella.”  

This production was the first opera showcased at Rollins since COVID-19.  The show featured vocalists, a live orchestra, and ensemble whose performances were enhanced by custom-made costumes. As the music played, viewers were swept into a world of carefree bliss, where for just a moment one could forget their daily hardships. 

Conversations with integral figures in the show, Director Dr. Caitlin Mohr and cast member Stella Monner (‘25), revealed how much work and dedication was put into crafting “Cendrillon.”  

“I always tell my students it’s never about the product, it’s always about the process. But when the product turns out to be exciting and fantastic, I’m very proud of what they were able to deliver and how hard they worked on it as a team,” said Dr. Mohr. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the show, “Cendrillon” is a French opera that is directly based off Charles Perrault’s 1698 telling of the classic tale of the same name. Because the original libretto is lengthy, Dr. Mohr expressed that many elements needed to be updated to better appeal to their audience.  

One of the first steps was translating the opera from French to English. Dr. Mohr decided on this change to allow a wider range of viewers to grasp the music and lyrics, encouraging them to develop a deeper understanding of the opera.  

“When we are able to create a work of art that taps into the humanity of people and allow people to escape into this beautiful world where they get to attach themselves to a character where they get to really have empathy for people that may be different, we start to understand what that looks like even though it’s our age-old fairy tale,” said Dr. Mohr. 

Another integral decision was double casting all principal roles in the production. For each of the six principals, two singers shared the role, which included Cinderella, Prince Charming, Cinderella’s Stepmother, the Fairy Godmother, and Cinderella’s two stepsisters. 

“It was my first opera, so it will always have a special place in my heart, and getting to do it with people that I have grown super close with over the years is also what makes the production so special to me,” said Monner, who performed as one of the Cinderellas. 

One component that made the show memorable to audiences was the live orchestra, conducted by Dr. John Grau and filled with the department’s very own students; the accompaniment was played by department pianist, Kristine Griffin.  In creating the production, Mohr and other team wanted to collaborate with a student orchestra to make the music come alive. Mohr noted that even when there is no singing in specific parts of the show, the orchestra is able to reflect what the characters are feeling at any given moment.  

The full departmental collaboration is what made all these different talents come together so seamlessly. As an audience member, one can see how much an orchestra can drive the direction and energy of an opera. The orchestra lays the foundation for the show and further enhances it when it is paired so well with the primary vocalists and ensemble. 

Those interested in seeing upcoming shows from the Rollins Music Department are encouraged to follow them on Instagram (@rollinscollegemusic) and look out for future email announcements. 

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