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Cinderella opera ‘Cendrillon,’ does not work out

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The traditional Cinderella story was performed at CSUN with an unusual twist in the opera “Cendrillon” directed by Maurice Godin.

The student production of Cinderella, performed in French, was accompanied by an English translation on a projector. The play was limited by the audience having to choose whether to focus on the screen or the performances. One would not make sense without the other.

Some may feel the Cinderella story has been performed too many times. The director Godin didn’t do much to elevate the familiar story, and did not make it feel fresh to the audience. The major drawdown of the production was the language the play was performed in. If the play had been performed for a French audience it might have been more popular. This is America, and few speak French.

The play starts in Madame de la Haltiére’s (Tiffany Argumeo) house, preparing her daughters Noémie (Kayla Bailey) and Dorothée (Vanessa Martinez). The daughters were given a makeover and new clothes to persuade the prince to marry one of them. Cinderella is left behind to do menial tasks, not allowed to join the festivities. With the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella attends the ball but must return before the strike of midnight.

There were a few humorous moments in the play. Cinderella is transported to the prince’s ball on a bicycle instead of horse and carriage.

It’s easy to notice this is a student production with a limited budget, one of the actors lost a note with his lines on the floor. The set design was simple and looked sort of cheap, especially a big tree in the background.

The actor’s performances weren’t of the highest quality. It seemed like the actors did not understand what they were singing about resulting in expressionless faces and stiff moments.

Nan Cui who played Cinderella was among the strongest actors. Cui portrayed a believable character and it was easy to see the pain Cinderella went through. Urfa Zakarian, who played the Fairy, was another actor who did a great job of playing with passion.

It wasn’t just the acting performances that were troublesome. The music was too loud at times and made it hard to hear the actors sing, however this has happened to professional performances as well.

The CSUN Theater Department tried to revamp a classical tale. However, aside from the French language, nothing was all that different.

“Cendrillon” continues their show at Nordhoff Hall at CSUN through November 4, Friday 2, 7:30 p.m. and Sun 4, 2 p.m.

26 Comments

  1. D Nov 13, 2012

    As a performer, I
    respect a reviewers choice to dislike a show, but this review was absolutely
    atrocious! 

    The Daily Sundial should
    be ashamed to have let such a libelous article to be printed.

     

    It is painfully obvious
    the reviewer did no research into opera or the show she was reviewing, did not
    stay for the whole show, and did not give two shits about how this horribly
    written excuse for a review would affect both the theater department and the music
    department.

     

    Frankly, you should write a retraction with an apology.

     

    The author should be
    ashamed of herself and the editors that allowed this drivel to be sent out
    should be ashamed of themselves. “This is America and few speak french”
    Seriously?

     

    I’ll be waiting for that
    retraction.

  2. I will start this by saying that I am not normally a fan of opera.  Nothing against opera performers, it’s just not my cup of tea.  I attended Cendrillon last Sunday, November 4th, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  It’s easy for us college students to be self-absorbed and only think of fellow college students as audience members.  The truth is that our theatre department has a lot of support from members of the San Fernando Valley Community who attend our shows, and are of varying ages and ethnicities.  During the intermission, I noticed a young girl dressed in a Cinderella costume.  As I purchased my refreshments, I overheard her speaking to her mother in *gasp* French!  She could not have been more than 8 or 9 years old, and she looked so happy to be watching this opera.  I thought how wonderful it must be for her to be able to share this theatrical experience with her mother, to be able to attend a show done in her first language done in her own community, and how it would probably be a memory she would cherish as she grew older.  I also thought how it might be valuable for a girl as young as she to see a woman in the role of Cinderella who was not the typical Disney blond haired, blue eyed princess, and instead performed wonderfully by Nan Cui.  Starting at a very young age, girls are constantly bombarded with images of what beautiful women are supposed to be, and early Disney films and their princesses are no exception.  Perhaps that young girl learned something about the true beauty of women, and that every woman of every ethnicity can be as pretty as a princess.  For the Cendrillon director, cast, and crew to have been able to have given that experience and delivered that message to just that one girl and her family is priceless.  I think it is telling of this reviewer that a 9 year old girl can sit through an opera, enjoy herself, and possibly learn valuable life lessons while being entertained, and that a grown woman, a college student no less, can barely make it to intermission.    

  3. MrSmithJames Nov 5, 2012

    I could not agree with this review more. The reviewer captured my frustrations perfectly. I actually didn’t see the play but Disney’s Cinderella was on telemundo a few weeks back and I couldn’t find the remote. I had to sit there while a beloved American classic was destroyed. Even though they had captions I seriously got a headache having to move my eyes up and down so much to read them. Did the play have mice? that was the best part. And if it did have mice were they real, trained actor mice or just students in costume? That would be lame. And cheap trees are the worst! LOL. Anyway, I totally agree with Terese. Captions suck and the french can’t act. 

    Goodbye, 

     

    1. scizwa Nov 9, 2012

      Just one thing.  Cinderella is not an American folk-tale.  At the very least, the presence of aristocracy ought to have tipped you off.  It is, as I believe you will find if you bother to read up on the matter, a French fairy tale in origin, one that was in existance long before “telemundo” or, for that matter, America was even so much as a glimmer in England’s eye. 

  4. Trisha Rivera Nov 5, 2012

          As a member of the cast of Cendrillon the OPERA, I am touched by the incredible response to this sad and pathetic attempt of a review.  The review, for me, was very easy to laugh off. I am nothing but proud of this incredibly well thought out and beautifully inspired interpretation of Massenet’s opera. Our director spent months of his life making sure that his image came through. I don’t have to be a member of the audience to know that. In fact, the owner of Alive Theatre Company in Long Beach praised his interpretation and was able to note all of the detail and symbolism that blanketed this production. As the owner of a company that is often reviewed by legitimate and professional papers  she was furious that such a thoughtless review could be published.  Every single aspect of this was thought out with great detail and depth. Our director is a professional actor and director and we were incredibly blessed to call him our director. Our set designers, lighting designers, costume designers and makeup designers are professionals that lent their expertise to make this production the best it could be.  

    I played Le prince Charmant (pardon my use of french as I know how much it bothers you) I am surprised that you made no mention of a girl playing a man’s role.  I am not upset to be, in your opinion, one of the actors whose ” performances weren’t of the highest quality. It seemed like the actors did not understand what they were singing about resulting in expressionless faces and stiff moments.”  You do not have to like my portrayal of the prince or my voice, I understand in this business that we cannot please everyone. In fact, I have refrained from replying simply because your review wasn’t a critique. In a review that has some negative comments, I would be able to grasp what didn’t work for the listener and even adjust my performance if the comments were applicable. I only comment because of the disrespect you have shown to my director: Maurice Godin, my musical director: Professor David Aks, set designer: David Weiss, costume designer: Paula Higgins, lighting design: Krystle Smith, and choreographer: Paula Thomas, as well as the rest of the crew and cast. These are professionals who have taken their time and talent to make us look as good as we can.  I do not need the approval of someone who clearly has never seen an opera before, I know my six months of work with this piece to learn every word, note, rhythm  every phrase, the necessary dynamics, my staging, the movement. I know what I was saying. I studied this opera, this role to the best of my ability. As a graduate student this is not my first rodeo. I’ve been in a number of operas with good and bad reviews. It is my job to take out of them what I can and let the rest go. There is nothing I can take from this review. In fact, I am convinced that you left after the first fairy scene, as your synopsis stops there. I am responding only because of the many operas I’ve been a part of, I have never been more proud and more grateful to those who led us as I am of this opera. 

    Shame on you for doing your job so poorly. More importantly shame on you Sundial Newspaper. Shame on you Natalie Rivera and Ashley Soley-Cerro. It is your job to review the work of the students. You have made the credibility of your newspaper diminish greatly. We are not worried that you made us look bad, our audience and both the theatre and music department know better than to give any worth to this. More importantly you have made CSUN look like a college of naive and culturally ignorant students, which we are not. I have been a matador for many years and never have I been so disappointed. It is vital for us to instill a love of the arts to our future generation and our present generation. We need culture and art in our society and with the budget cuts in all schools, preschool on up, we are blessed and very lucky to be able to share an art that has been around much longer than this reviewer and these editors clearly understand or comprehend, or this “review” would never have been published. 

    I hope that you are held accountable and ask that all of us who have commented make sure to contact these two people to begin with. I was told that these two women are responsible for reviewing and publishing this unfortunate piece. I would ask that a proper review be published immediately and an apology issued to the many professionals that were in charge of this opera. It is not enough to say that you will fix this in the future. That is only the beginning. If you need a proper review just read through the comments, Jenny Ohrstrom’s in particular was written as a proper and factual review. Please rectify this immediately. You have made a very big mistake and you need to fix it. We are a community here at Northridge, and our departments should support one another. As a member of a department that advertises on your “newspaper”, I would hope this would happen soon as it seems we will desire less and less to include you in our advertising options. That is the first thing we as students are asking that should happen. We are outraged and feel no money should be invested in a department that has such little regard for our department or the work we are doing. 

    Your actions following this will tell us a lot about what you are doing at the Sundial newspaper. This “review” of our “play” that’s music “was too loud at times and made it hard to hear the actors sing, however this has happened to professional performances as well.” (would love to know what professional opera this reviewer has seen) is a very sad representation of the culturally diverse campus we are apart of. Please rectify this immediately as you have offended professionals that have worked in their craft longer than any of your “reporters” have been alive. I myself will never read this so called newspaper again, unless something is done; more than just saying you are “aware of the uproar and are open to suggestions for future reviews” That is unacceptable.  That is a copout. Natalie and Ashley, it is your responsibility to try and rectify this in some way. Please figure it out and do so. 

    Arts & EntertainmentNatalie Riveraane@csun.edu

    Editor in ChiefAshley Soley-Cerroeditor@csun.edu

  5. Sam Baker Nov 5, 2012

    This is going to be short, as the above 18 comments make clear my feelings on this review.  That being said, let’s begin:

    First, Cintrillon is an Opera, not a play.  Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines Opera as: “Musical drama made up of vocal pieces with orchestral accompaniment, overtures, and interludes. You saw an Opera, not a play.  I just need to make that clear. 

    Next, your statement:    “If the play had been performed for a French audience it might have been more popular. This is America, and few speak French.”     Makes me a disappointed individual in your knowledge, as a campus representative and a representative of the journalism department, of culture.  It’s a French Opera, composed in French, written in French, from France.  America is a country which formerly was a land of diversity.  It’s the “this is America, speak English or get out” attitude, that is killing this country.  Did you know you’re on one of the most culturally diverse campuses in the state?  I’m sure more than your circle of people speak French, go meet some sometime, add a little culture in your life.  Please.

    Finally, use sources to educate yourself for your writing.  Even if they are online sources, allow those to be your excuse for a lack of education, rather than . . . not.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opera?show=0&t=1352135503

  6. KaylieAnnWarfield Nov 5, 2012

    Dear Terese,

    I graduated this past
    spring from CSUN’s Master of Music program, and I was privileged to be able to
    take part in a CSUN Opera Theater performance while I was a student. I also
    attended a showing of Cendrillon, and have to say that I enjoyed it immensely. I
    have to say, as a recent graduate of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and
    Communication, I am very surprised to see that our paper (which is part of the Mike Curb
    College, in case you forgot) is publishing pieces that contain such obvious disregard
    for fact. Your “review” exemplifies everything a review should never be. It is
    obvious to anyone who has seen Cendrillon—or any opera for that matter—that you
    have no idea what you are talking about. Here is a thorough list of the
    problems that I have found within your “review.”

    1.      1.  As another responder previously stated, you
    begin your review by stating that there was an “unsusal twist” in the opera,
    yet you never state what it is supposed to have been. Furthermore, you go on to
    state again, that the director “didn’t do much to elevate the familiar story,
    and did not make it feel fresh to the audience.” Well, Terese, you must choose
    a side. Either it has an unusual twist, which would create a fresh perspective,
    or it doesn’t feel fresh for the audience, which makes your opening statement
    an outright falsehood. I will simply chalk this one up to inexperience as a
    writer and suggest that you proofread better next time before submitting for
    publication. (Also, dear editorial staff, you might want to proofread better as
    well!!)

    2.       2. “The [show] was limited by the audience having
    to choose whether to focus on the screen or the performances. One would  not make sense without the other.” This statement
    tells me that you did not do any research into your topic before you “took to
    the streets.” If you could have been bothered to read a little about opera, or
    its culture, you would have known going in that there would be supertitles, and
    it is considered a nicety for this to be done for you. In Europe, people aren’t
    always given the luxury of supertitles. They are there as an aid for those like
    yourself who don’t speak the language. Also, those supertitles were completed
    after hours of translation by music grad students! It is not something just
    thrown together overnight, like your piece obviously was.

    3.       3. You go on to state that there was a “major
    drawdown.” I might be assuming here, (and we all know what assuming does! After
    all, your editors assumed you could write a review!!) but I imagine that you
    would be in our journalism department. This means you are supposed to have a
    solid grasp of the English language, as you will be communicating important
    knowledge to the masses. Here is the dictionary definition of the word “drawdown.”

    Drawdown:        1. a lowering of water surface level, as
    in a well.

                2.
    a reduction or depletion : a drawdown of weapons in an arms-limitation plan.
    I
    believe the word you were looking for was “drawback” or even “setback,” which
    brings me to my next point.

    4.       4. I know it is being advertised as a Cinderella
    opera, but the title of the show is Cendrillon, not Cinderella.  Hmmm….a French opera by a French composer
    about a French story set in France. It makes sense that they would sing it in
    French. You go on to state “if the [show] had been performed for a French audience
    it might have been more popular. This is America, and few speak French.” Are
    you serious?! Stop being ridiculous, Terese. Plenty of Americans speak French,
    and those that don’t are not bothered when they have to use the supertitles. Not
    all of us Americans are as stupidly, stubbornly, red-neckedly “pro-‘Murica” as
    you would have the general student body believe. (And btw, I am from the
    south, and most of my friends and family back home would not be bothered by the
    opera being in French.)

    5.       5.. Time and time again, you refer to the show as a
    play. This is grossly incorrect. (Again, Terese, proofreading!!) There are many
    differences between a play and an opera. The biggest of these is the fact that
    one is spoken word, while the other is sung. The fact that you continuously got
    this fact wrong tells me that you aren’t even trying and worse: you don’t even
    care.

    6.       6.“There were a few humorous moments in the
    [show]. Cinderella is transported to the prince’s ball on a bicycle instead of
    horse and carriage.” Terese, were we watching the same show? Were you listening
    when Madame de la….oh wait, that’s right. You couldn’t focus on the supertitles
    and the stage at the same time. Sorry, my mistake.

    7.       7. “It’s easy to notice this is a student
    production with a limited budget…the set design was simple and looked sort of
    cheap.” You know what, Terese? The limited budget had nothing to do with this
    production. If you would have been paying attention, you would have seen that
    the director decided to take the show in a very different direction than is
    traditional. The first thing the audience sees is the wagon of a traveling
    theater troupe, and all the players come flooding out of it. The whole show was
    set up this way. Would a traveling theater troupe be able to set up a lavish
    background? No! The whole idea was for us as the audience to do something we
    aren’t asked to very often—use a bit of imagination! Stop asking for everything
    to be handed to you, Terese! Stop being so simple-minded! If it comes down to having
    a simple set and a creative mind, or a lavish set and a simple mind, give me
    the simple set any day! So, yes, it was simple—which is not a bad thing!—but was
    very far from cheap. Please take a minute now and learn the difference between
    these two words.

    8.       8. You state that “the actors performances weren’t
    of the highest quality” and “it seemed like the actors did not understand what
    they were singing about.” I happen to know what preparing a role entails,
    having done it myself. There is notes and rhythms, yes. Then there are words.
    Not just loosely translating from whatever language to English, but REAL translation.
    The kind where you translate everything you see, word by word. Everything, not
    just your words, but everyone’s. Then you speak it in English until it makes
    perfect sense, then you speak it in the foreign language until it makes even
    more sense and you can remember exactly what it translates to, word for word.
    Then you have to start to sing it, and make sure that when you sing it, you
    focus not only on what the word for word translation is, but how the composer
    has additionally expressed the translation within the musical line. And then
    there’s the additional research about the time period, stylistic musical choices
    the composer made and how those choices would have translated to audiences
    during that time period, and any additional reading that may have been the
    basis for the operatic work. And all that craziness is just the prep work. Then
    there’s the stage work. Learning where the director wants you, and what he
    wants you to express bodily while you’re still expressing everything musically
    that you believe the composer intended. Believe me, they knew exactly what they
    were saying when they were saying it.

    Also, I
    find it very hard to put any stock whatsoever in your opinions about the stage
    performers due to the fact that you have already stated your previous inability
    to watch the stage and keep track of the supertitles at the same time. How do I
    know you actually saw what happened on the stage?

    9.       9. It was not a production by the Theater
    Department alone. If you read the little piece of paper they gave you when you
    went into the theater, you will note that it says the show was produced by the
    Department of Music with the Department of Theater. Please read before you
    write.

    10.   10. You state they “tried to revamp a classical
    tale.” First of all, it should be said “a classic tale,” not “a classical tale.”
    Classical implies that it is characteristic of Greek and Roman antiquity, while
    the story itself was published in 1697 written by Charles Perrault. Now, if you
    were referring to the earliest known version known as Rhodopis by Strabo—which actually
    was written in the Greco-Roman time, and could be referred to as a Classical
    tale—then that would be something entirely different. However, based on the
    rest of your “paper” and the lack of research you did concerning every other
    aspect, and also based upon the fact that you think the French language is a
    new addition to the story, I think it is safe to say you were referring to the
    Disney Cinderella—which has absolutely nothing to do with Massenet’s take on
    the Classic tale of Cendrillon.**sidenote: the Disney version came after
    Massenet’s opera. That’s something you might want to know for future endeavors.

     

    In
    conclusion, it is easy to see that you did not want this assignment and did not
    take it seriously at all. The fact that you did not even bother to find out the
    slightest bit of information about it beforehand is disrespectful to the cast
    and crew of the show who was unfortunate enough to have you in their audience,
    disrespectful to the staff at the Sundial—as the horribly written,
    unknowledgeable, drivel that you submitted and called a review got published
    under their name, and disrespectful to yourself as a journalist. If you intend
    to make a living writing for the rest of your life, you had better get your
    s**t together and stop thinking that crap like your submission is acceptable. Look
    at the review written and submitted in the responses by jennyohrstrom. It is
    something you can use as a guide to teach you how to actually write a review. It
    is well written and knowledgeable regardless of her opinion. Whether or not you
    liked the performance is irrelevant. I’m not upset that you didn’t like the
    show, Terese. Not everyone will like every performance, but it is your job as
    the reviewer to write objectively and take into account all the facts
    concerning the work put in. If you are unknowledgeable about something you are
    being required to write about, it is your responsibility as a journalist to
    educate yourself before you attempt to “educate” the public.

    If you don’t
    intend to make a living writing, then stop. Quit the staff and let someone who
    actually wants to write and write well do the job instead. I hope your teacher/editor/whoever
    gives you your grade actually takes a moment to read your sorry excuse for a
    review and give you a grade that properly reflects the work you so obviously
    didn’t put into it.

  7. jennyohrstrom Nov 5, 2012

    As a fellow matador and Curbie, this review does not accurately represent the production I saw.  Being that the only plot points discussed are in Act I, I am hesitant to believe the reviewer stayed past intermission.  I understand that negative reviews are a part of the business, however all reviews (bad or good) need to be able to back up those opinions with facts, sources, and research.  

    CSUN has a long history of producing fantastic operas and musicals.  We have seen singers like Carol Vaness and Michelle DeYoung start world-class careers on our stages in Nordhoff Hall.  Maurice Godin’s production of Cendrillon falls perfectly into line with our rich history of professional productions.  As a music student at CSUN who loves opera but was not involved in Cendrillon, I would like to offer some insight from the perspective of an opera enthusiast.

    Massenet’s Cendrillon has not “been performed too many times.”  In fact, it has only come back into the popular operatic repertoire in the last four years compliments of New York City Opera and the Royal Opera House in London.  Since its composition in 1895, Cendrillon saw immediate popularity and many performances in the early 20th century with legendary singers in the main roles.  However, Cendrillon has only been found sporadically since, with a noteworthy production by Santa Fe Opera directed by Laurent Pelly that was used by the Royal Opera House for their DVD recording.  With the exception of Santa Fe Opera in 2006 and CSU Long Beach’s recent production of Cendrillon, this opera has been unavailable to the western United States since its composition.  Although several recordings have been made, there is only one DVD of Cendrillon available, and it was only released in May 2012.
    We are very lucky at CSUN to have a close relationship between the theatre and music departments.  There are many universities where the music department has their own costume and set designers because they do not collaborate at all with the theatre. Allowing each aspect of the production to be handled by someone who specializes in that skill, this unique collaboration CSUN has allows our productions to be of professional quality and makes them simply impressive for all who come to see.  The opera’s director, Maurice Godin, is a working actor and brings freshness, attentiveness, and new life to our beloved genre of opera.  The singers and orchestra musicians are students, but the sets and costumes are done by a combination of professionals and students.

    The costumes and makeup for this production were outstanding, as well as the sets.  Le Prince Charmant is a pants role (a woman playing a man) played by Trisha Rivera, a graduate mezzo-soprano.  Even in the front row, it was impossible to tell that she was wearing a wig or even female at all. Her voice’s warmth, expressiveness and impressively delicate phrasing is beautifully showcased in her first aria, “Allez, laissez-moi seule” (“Go, leave me alone.”)  Nan Cui, as Cendrillon, demonstrated impressive vocal skill throughout the production, sounding just as fresh in her last few notes as she did on her initial entrance onstage.  Madame de la Haltière is a hard role to cast due to the low vocal registration and technical demands, and yet Tiffany Argumendo delivers the music with ease.

    As for costuming, all of the dresses for this production were custom made.  For the ladies at the ball, there were nine color-coordinated gowns and Cendrillon herself had a skirt which had hundreds of delicate leaves, each hand-sewn.  Personally, I wish I had La Fée’s gown in my closet, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt that way.  The gentlemen at the ball each had expertly tailored tuxedos, once again an impressive display of the caliber of skills found in the costumers.

    The sets were minimalistic, which allowed the audience to fill in the rest with their own fantasies.  In the forest, we had one main tree.   In contrast to the reviewer’s opinion, this was an incredibly made tree.  We aren’t looking at any old tree that could be found in the forest, but the one that shades the grave of Cendrillon’s mother.  While in the home of Cendrillon’s family, the set includes a large and extremely detailed wall and upholstered furniture.  Bravo to the set designer and his crew- if I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed that these set pieces were borrowed from a professional opera company. 

    Overall, this is an amazing production.  The high level of talent from every person involved (all set construction crew members, all costume designers, the lighting designers and crew, all makeup artists and hair dressers, all musicians including singers and those in the pit orchestra, the conductor, the director, and supertitles to name as many as I can off the top of my head) came together to create a stunning production which was sadly misrepresented by the reviewer.

    For future reference, music students are often required to write performance reviews for their courses and are always willing to help publicize their performances.  I would like to encourage the reviewer as well as the other reporters to seek out more information before publishing such unpolished reviews, or even to seek out music students to review the music performances.  There are ways to become more knowledgeable about opera, and I will be contacting the editor of the Sundial with information about how to learn more.

    1. verachelyapov Nov 5, 2012

      Can you please be the reviewer for future productions?  I not only found your review informative and informed, but also a pleasure to read due to your enthusiasm for the craft of opera and theater.

    2. scizwa Nov 5, 2012

      Beautifully said Jenny.  Brava.

  8. cocoliquot Nov 4, 2012

    The true fool chooses to listen to the cacaphony of his own voice (or, in this case, pen) without realizing that it exposes him as a true fool.

  9. cocoliquot Nov 4, 2012

    The true fool prefers to hear the cacaphony from their own lips (or, in this case, pen) without realizing how it exposes him/her as a true fool.

  10. retha Nov 4, 2012

    Terese Torgerson is on some bulls&*% and next time please send someone who actually has experience writing articles and reviewing operas. DISGRACEFUL

  11. ddb721 Nov 4, 2012

    I have to say — this is a terrible review. Clearly the author is ignorant to the very basic characteristics of opera because this review tears apart this production for reasons that simply do not make sense to an enlightened listener/viewer. A few things that stuck out while reading:
    1. The singers she saw perform are earning their degrees in classical vocal performance and regularly sing in German, French, Italian, and English as well as Latin and Hebrew. This is an incredible accomplishment and not something just anyone can do. It is part of what makes operatic performance so incredible. French diction, in particular, is extremely difficult to learn and I feel sorry that the author was unable to appreciate this skill. 2. The opera is the story of Cinderella — Cendrillon translates to Cinderella. It’s not supposed to be wildly different than the fairytale because it is the fairytale. But if you were paying attention, there are some major differences in the opera that differ from the story most people are familiar with. 3. Go to ANY opera house in the world and there will be supertitles translating the language. This is intended to be a courtesy, not an annoyance to the viewer but apparently some are unable to keep up. 4. The Theater Dept did not produce this show – the Music Dept did. 5. You say that the director didn’t do anything to update the story but then you bash the minimalistic set. That directorial decision was, I believe, intended to bring freshness to the story. Also, it’s quite common in theater these days to do minimalist sets and my opinion is that the set for this show was beautiful. Furthermore, anyone that is familiar with recent budget cuts should understand that producing a minimalistic show is economically wise, in addition to providing a different feel than a lavish, over the top set. I feel like this article was poorly researched, the writer was poorly educated, and the final product was poorly written. Perhaps the Sundial should have considered interviewing a few cast members or others involved with the show to understand what opera is and clear up any author misunderstandings so that the she would not have appeared so ignorant. Or perhaps even better, the Sundial should have sent a reporter that has an interest and knowledge in the subject matter they are reporting. 

  12. Bradford Smith Nov 4, 2012

    Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with giving a negative review. Sometimes the performance you see is not quite up to the standards it should be, and as the author of the review you must make note of that. However, for this particular performance the negative review seems to be more of an angry attack than an actual piece written to inform the readers of the Sundial about the work being done by the Theatre Department. Not only are the actors and director criticized, but the set and even opera as a whole seems to be the victim of your frustration.

    Normally I would disregard something like this, but in rereading your article, it almost appears that you hadn’t actually paid attention to the opera. Though you provide a thrilling four sentence summary of the basic Cinderella story (which you wouldn’t have needed to go to the performance to obtain) and a single sentence to sum up the “humorous moments” you witnessed, I’m still not entirely convinced you made it through until the end. A majority of this article sounds like it was thrown together for an extra credit assignment for a high school drama class, “Urfa Zakarian who played the Fairy was another actor who did a great job of playing with passion”. I don’t mean to put down your writing abilities, but as a college journalist your Editor should be holding you to a higher standard.

    Even more upsetting is that you take the opportunity to make assumptions about several aspects of production which you know nothing about. Had you spent time speaking with any of the performers, you may have learned that they did in fact “understand what they were singing about”. You may also have learned that this was not a production of “Cinderella”, but of “Cendrillon”. Though similar, they are two different things.

    Delving further, I began to feel like you might not have even been aware of arts beyond whatever they are promoting on NBC. Calling the set design “simple” and “sort of cheap” because it wasn’t as elaborate as the sets in film and television is a bit childish. Piet Mondrian’s “lozenge” paintings are no less artistic and thought provoking than Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, despite being obviously far more simple in design. You also argue that the translation of the opera limited what the audience could pay attention to, which is just purely absurd. As several other comments mention, anyone who has seen a subtitled foreign film has no problem paying attention to both the action and dialogue. Then again there are those who do have an issue with it however, and do not appreciate such art, but they typically do not get asked to write a review of it then. Writing a review is about being fair and open minded, and not rejecting stuff you don’t have a taste for. With some art, such as this, everything isn’t just handed to you as it is in much of today’s pop culture, sometimes you actually have to use your brain to interpret or imagine to really get the full effect and enjoy it.

    Finally, you humorously mention the language of the performance being a “major drawdown” while you yourself seem to be unaware of the proper language for your own article. Besides a grammatical and spelling errors, what I found the most issue with was your incorrect word choice. “Revamp” for example means to remake, revise, or otherwise renovate something to a better state, which you claim the entire Theatre Department was trying to do with “Cendrillon” by using the French language. A simple search on Wikipedia would show you the falseness of that statement however, as “Cendrillon” is French, was performed in French, and is actually much closer to the original fairy tale than the Disney version of “Cinderella” that you may be more familiar with.

    So I do apologize if you (Terese Torgersen) don’t enjoy opera, or CSUN performances, or whatever it is exactly that made you upset enough to disregard facts and just rant as you did. Perhaps next time it might be a good idea to let the Editor or whoever is in charge know this though, so that they can send someone else and avoid another backlash such as the one this piece has received. If not for yourself, then at least for the integrity of the Sundial. Thank you.

  13. TiffanyArgumedo Nov 4, 2012

    To whom this may concern,
    This article did not make me upset of the fact that this fellow student didn’t enjoy this opera. In fact I am majoring in vocal performance and happen to be in this opera the author spoke of. I understand that opera is not everybody’s cup of tea and I often times do not like many opera’s I see. What I found upsetting was the lack of respect in the article. I understand that the writer felt the need to speak his/her truth and that I applaud, but how dare you belittle this productions hard work. The director did not just say “hey just throw up some cloth and call it a day”. The costume shop did not just chant “toga, toga, toga”. The lighting crew did not say “let there be light”. The actors/singers did not say “hey let’s sort of sing this because nobody knows what we’re going to be saying. This is America and nobody reads supertitles or knows French so lets just sing whatever and hold out our hands here to look cool.” No the set was minimal and whimsical to allow the audience to use some of their own imagination, the costumes were amazing and the costume shop spent more hours then they should making phenomenal costumes, the lighting crew went well into midnight during weekdays along with the backstage crew to make things look great. And the opera singers and directors have been learning this opera since July while most students were off from school. Do you understand what goes behind learning an opera? It is not only pitches and notes, its rhythms, and diction, and translating every word so you know not only what you are saying but what everyone else is saying. Once school is in session there is about a month to learn the blocking. (Blocking is all the movement and action going on at the same time as singing and counting in your head and thinking about what you are saying.) Not only that but you also have to bring in the orchestra which is completely different than singing with just a piano and add the conductor who also has to try to keep it all together. All of this is best case scenario, which is really not how life works especially those of students and teachers involved trying to juggle school, work, and surprises from life. Oh and those supertitles that you criticized were also put together by a fellow student who also dedicated much of his time to this opera. I’m not saying all this to get pity, in fact in writing this I have let off steam and have decided to help you out for the next time you want to review something you know nothing about. Research, it is the main tool of a journalist. Interview, you could have recieved opinions from others at the opera as well as your own, both positive and not so positive. This would have better helped the production because we would have known what we as actors would have need to “tweek”. Furthermore you could have interviewed the directors or some of the opera singers in the production even the backstage crew. Remember when reviewing be professional and in order to keep the doors open for other opportunities choose your words carefully it will help you legitimize your own writing and gain the respect of colleagues and readers. Also remember you must show some loyalty to your employer. In this case it is Cal State University Northridge (whether it be in grades or with money.) Don’t go bashing the very school you work for. Unfortunately with this inaccurate and unthoughtful article you not only made the Mike Curb College of the Arts sound bad you also made CSUN sound bad by implying that one of its many colleges is possibly less than mediocre. I hope you find this in some way helpful.
     
    Good Luck in all your future endeavours
     
    Tiffany Argumedo
    P.S  you misspelled my last name which was spelled correctly in the playbill. 

  14. TiffanyArgumedo Nov 4, 2012

    To whom this may concern,
    This article did not make me upset of the fact that this fellow student didn’t enjoy this opera. In fact I am majoring in vocal performance and happen to be in this opera the author spoke of. I understand that opera is not everybody’s cup of tea and I often times do not like many opera’s I see. What I found upsetting was the lack of respect in the article. I understand that the writer felt the need to speak his/her truth and that I applaud, but how dare you belittle this productions hard work. The director did not just say “hey just throw up some cloth and call it a day”. The costume shop did not just chant “toga, toga, toga”. The lighting crew did not say “let there be light”. The actors/singers did not say “hey let’s sort of sing this because nobody knows what we’re going to be saying. This is America and nobody reads supertitles or knows French so lets just sing whatever and hold out our hands here to look cool.” No the set was minimal and whimsical to allow the audience to use some of their own imagination, the costumes were amazing and the costume shop spent more hours then they should making phenomenal costumes, the lighting crew went well into midnight during weekdays along with the backstage crew to make things look great. And the opera singers and directors have been learning this opera since July while most students were off from school. Do you understand what goes behind learning an opera? It is not only pitches and notes, its rhythms, and diction, and translating every word so you know not only what you are saying but what everyone else is saying. Once school is in session there is about a month to learn the blocking. (Blocking is all the movement and action going on at the same time as singing and counting in your head and thinking about what you are saying.) Not only that but you also have to bring in the orchestra which is completely different than singing with just a piano and add the conductor who also has to try to keep it all together. All of this is best case scenario, which is really not how life works especially those of students and teachers involved trying to juggle school, work, and surprises from life. Oh and those supertitles that you criticized were also put together by a fellow student who also dedicated much of his time to this opera. I’m not saying all this to get pity, in fact in writing this I have let off steam and have decided to help you out for the next time you want to review something you know nothing about. Research, it is the main tool of a journalist. Interview, you could have recieved opinions from others at the opera as well as your own, both positive and not so positive. This would have better helped the production because we would have known what we as actors would have need to “tweek”. Furthermore you could have interviewed the directors or some of the opera singers in the production even the backstage crew. Remember when reviewing be professional and in order to keep the doors open for other opportunities choose your words carefully it will help you legitimize your own writing and gain the respect of colleagues and readers. Also remember you must show some loyalty to your employer. In this case it is Cal State University Northridge (whether it be in grades or with money.) Don’t go bashing the very school you work for. Unfortunately with this inaccurate and unthoughtful article you not only made the Mike Curb College of the Arts sound bad you also made CSUN sound bad by implying that one of its many colleges is possibly less than mediocre. I hope you find this in some way helpful.

    Good Luck in all your future endeavours

    Tiffany Argumedo
    P.S  you misspelled my last name which was spelled correctly in the playbill. 

  15. Mason Guzman Nov 3, 2012

    This writer is obviously lacking much ethos in writing this review.  Her credibility on writing about opera does not seem to be very trustworthy and as a fellow audience member as well as a student in the music department, I must say that I personally thought that the production was fantastic in all the aspects that she criticized, especially for a college level performance.  As a newly baptized follower of the Church of Opera, Cendrillon has possibly been dubbed my most enjoyable of all the masses so far, but I guess the fact that I could be enthralled in the message of the sermon while the author could not seem to find anything positive to say about it is what makes me a zealot and her a heathen.  Thus being said, she had no reason to be there at all if all she was going to do is bash the opera and create fallacies in her head that fortify her ignorance of the art form and her distaste of having to sit through the show.  I also believe that the author should work on her rhetoric. For someone to be a journalist publishing this level of writing while lacking any sort of emotion or body to the text as well as only emanating discomfort and ridicule, she should be aghast in herself.

  16. Joe Estrella Nov 3, 2012

    Originally I was going to find a professional review of a show, so you may see how an experience writer writes. I figured that it would not be fair to compare you to someone of a higher caliber, so why not dig from within. http://sundial.csun.edu/2008/10/mozartoperatohitcsunstage/ This was written by an alumni of the Daily Sundial. As a reviewer of student shows you should probably take a look at it, it may help you from pouring gas on fire. CSUN is definitely known for putting on quality productions, the set designer is an outside set designer and the painter just worked on multiple PROFESSIONAL sets before lending her services to us. You’re a reporter, maybe checking facts and possibly interviewing people might be a good thing, unless you want to be considered an unreliable source. Seeing the production for what it really is, that is your job, but stating that “It’s easy to notice this is a student production with a limited budget[…]” is a slap in the face to everyone that worked on the production. Some of these singers are actually professionals here to finish their degree. Then again due to the caliber that the Sundial produces I can say the same about you. This article was clearly written by an amateur that knows that they are working on an Art’s and Entertainment “fluff piece” instead of the hard hitting story of the CSUN bike bandit, the writer went into the production that was to be reviewed hating that they were there and now have to sit through an artsy piece of theatre rather than the stakeout in the B3 parking lot. The Sundial still produces some quality articles, but it is not the same as it was. It’s a shame that CSUN has attempt to pass it off as journalism when in reality the Editor can’t even suggest to calm an article down before it was written. Your job is to help get people in the seats of the show, thats why articles are written during the run, you can say negative things but remember to balance it with the positive. I assume that this is your first go at writing theatrical reviews, so take this as a learning experience. This is a negative review of a professional theatre production: http://www.voiceplaces.com/flipzoids-los-angeles-1888519-e/

    Balance will help soften blows. I will not say that you should love every production, but please do consider the work that goes into a production and how you can be softer with your blow, because when you produce damning and cold work, you get backlash that can cause waves and issues with departments that often do work with each other. (We buy advertising space… you guys are a part of our  obvious “low budget.”)   

  17. Anthony Rivera Nov 3, 2012

    This show was thoroughly fantastic! The set was beautifully designed and did not look cheap at all. You must not be an avid Opera patron. Have you ever seen an opera before? For a student show, this was INCREDIBLY well done. Just to let you know, this opera is not called “Cinderella”, it’s called “Cendrillon”. That means it can’t be performed in English since it was written in French. Also, I am all for being proud to be an American, but not when it comes to the extent of being ignorant towards other cultures and languages.
    Take note that Opera is a Culture. You seem to be biased so of course this show would get a bad review from someone clearly inexperienced in the arts. I don’t speak French, but if you paid attention at all, you would note that in the opera it takes a good amount of time to communicate a short message. This means you can easily read the “Supertitles”(fancy word for the big words projected above) and then pay attention to how the message is portrayed through the music and acting. Unless you read at a 3rd grade level and can’t handle it. And why limit our possibilities of what can be performed to only English. Do you prefer that we be ignorant to everything outside of “Uhmurika”? I would entitle this review as “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but let me slander a great show”. This is like asking a vegetarian to review a new meat dish at a BBQ restaurant. You’re out of your element. This paper has just lost all credibility because the editing staff has let this poison leak into the minds of the student population.

  18. crescentmoonrising Nov 3, 2012

    Clearly, the writer of this article has no understanding of opera- perhaps this writer would have enjoyed an episode of Honey Boo Boo instead.  Though that does sound harsh, blatant low-brow statements like “This is America, and few speak French,” clearly show that this writer didn’t have an open mind to even try to enjoy this show, and instead of reviewing this opera this person instead used the review to vent their frustration at being given this assignment.

    I invite the audience to see the show and form their own opinions, because clearly this ‘review’ (and I use that term loosely in this case) isn’t objective.  CSUN is known for putting on quality productions, especially since the music and theatre departments are so strong.  See the show yourself and see what an incredible job CSUN can do.

  19. Sarah Makita Nov 3, 2012

    Final note: 
    “If the play had been performed for a French audience it might have been more popular. This is America, and few speak French.”

    This was an opera, not a play. 

  20. Sarah Makita Nov 3, 2012

    Terese Torgersen, have you ever seen a piece of theatre? There are major issues (besides your writing structure) with the obvious lack of knowledge about the production, as well as factual errors. 

    In the beginning you say there is an “unusual twist” in the opera, followed directly after with “The director Godin didn’t do much to elevate the familiar story, and did not make it feel fresh to the audience.”. 

    Sounds like the opposite of an “unusual twist”. I looked for the twist later in the article, then read it through again. Still could not find it. 

    “The set design was simple and looked sort of cheap, especially a big tree in the background.”

    You say that it is not “revamped”, then criticize the set for being simple. Most productions of Cinderella are full of grandeur. Also, please define what “sort of cheap” looks like, and your background in set design. “Simple” and “cheap” are not synonymous. 

    “The play was limited by the audience having to choose whether to focus on the screen or the performances.””The actor’s performances weren’t of the highest quality. It seemed like the actors did not understand what they were singing about resulting in expressionless faces and stiff moments.”

    Perhaps that is because you were not reading the super titles. Have you never watched a film with subtitles?  

    “The CSUN Theater Department tried to revamp a classical tale. However, aside from the French language, nothing was all that different.”

    1. Was this the “unusual twist” you were talking about?

    2. The CSUN Theatre* Department is not the one revamping it. The Director who is taken from the Music Department is the Director, therefore the production is his vision, not the Theatre Department’s. This information is on the second page of the playbill. 

    3. Cinderella is originally not an English tale. It’s French.  
    Next time, please send someone who likes opera to the opera. 

  21. scizwa Nov 3, 2012

    Dear author, if I reviewed your article with regards to your ability to write well as you had reviewed Cendrillion, it would make your article look like a standing ovation.  Secondly, there are opera reviews in the L.A. Times in the calender section regularly.  Please read them before attempting to write one yourself.  And also, je pense que vous êtes
    très unculte parsque je parle français est je suis americaine.  Regardless, people go to movies and watch with subtitles all the time, and in opera it is indeed the norm.  Unless your review is a rant about your particular frustration with the genre as a whole, it ought not to be a part of your review.   Finally, this version of Cinderella is actually much closer to the “original” fairy tale, as it the original is, in fact, French.  I’m not sure what you consider the original, but it is not the one put out by Disney. 

    Please consider this before reviewing any more operas, or attempting to write in general.  All the best,

    J.H.B.

  22. Travis Elconin Nov 3, 2012

    You should seriously be ashamed to call yourself a journalist.  How can you be the person they sent to review this opera if you, obviously, know nothing about opera? Do you even like opera? Is music only beautiful to you if it is in English? Have you never seen a foreign film with subtitles? Is that too distracting? I’ve tried to be respectful and patient with the establishment that you people like to call a “newspaper”, but this reviewer has, through their ignorance, and I should say some rather poor writing, hurt the publicity for a very high-caliber production that could use every bit of support from the students on campus. 

    Isn’t there supposed to be some sort of editor that should be proofreading these before they are printed? What is a “drawdown”?

  23. beethoven9_9 Nov 1, 2012

    “The play was limited by the audience having to choose whether to focus on the screen or the performances.”

    “This is America, and few speak french.”It is abundantly clear from this article that you are not informed on operatic performances.  Surtitles are the norm in non-english opera performances, and that you found it distracting or claimed that an audience member was not able to pay attention to both shows what seems to be an underlying inability for you to accurately review this production.  Additionally, if you feel that the story is so “familiar” and that the production attempted to “revamp a classic tale,” why is it that you could not “make sense” of the plot without reading the text?

    While this type of performance may be a bit more complex and have a smaller audience than something like (another recent CSUN performance) “Spring Awakening,” Cendrillon should not receive such a poor, bland review simply because the article author is adept at reviewing such performance types.Having seen the production last night, I can say happily that the production was extremely well done and regardless of budgetary constraints the article author might suggest, was of a very high visual calibre for a college-level production. 

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