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Local News Summary of December, 17th

  • «La Cenerentola» by Gioachino Rossini at Theater Basel
  • One person injured at the Vice Club in Basel
  • Robbery at Kleinhüningerstrasse

«La Cenerentola» by Gioachino Rossini at Theater Basel

The directing of the current production of Rossini’s “Cenerentola” at Theater Basel is almost as embarrassing as the trailer on the website. Thankfully, the music saves it all!

Once the curtain opens during the first bars of the overture, the audience is faced with an almost empty stage. In the middle of the room, there is a large flower arrangement, or rather an insular group of flower-trees. Such giant flowers do not exist even in the most exotic places on Earth. They are only ‘real’ in fairy tales. Good thing, then, that Rossini’s opera “La Cenerentola” (which was first presented to an audience in Rome exactly 200 years ago) is a fairy tale. It is loosely based on a tale from Charles Perrault’s “Cendrillon” (Histoires ou Contes du temps passé), the Bechstein fairy tale of “Aschenbrödel”, the Brothers Grimm tale of “Aschenputtel”, and Walt Disney’s film “Cinderella”. 

A poor orphan has to endure hardships because of their stepmother (or a stepfather, in Rossini’s case) and two horrible stepsisters but is saved by magic and a shoe (or an armband) left behind at a ball. In the end, the prince recognises and marries her – the tale is well-known and popular.

(Not) a fairy tale

A fairy tale, then! But the flowers on Basel’s theatre stage are black and dreary, and remain so until the end. Only the wooden table and half a dozen colourful chairs provide a bit of variation. Magic plays only a little role here.

Oh, and there is also a young woman who plays with an almost life-sized puppet. The horrid dummy seems to have mergedwith the body of Cenerentola – Cinderella. She can even pull out smaller puppets from her own body to play out her dream of a better life with the prince. A mysterious man in a strange outfit (costumes and puppets made by Graziella Pepe) observes her under spotlights and takes notes of the story. Ah, you might think, this must be the man pulling the strings, the puppet master, or the fairy – in the opera, it is Alidoro, the prince’s tutor and protector of lovers. He is also the benevolent spirit (the director’s intention, no doubt) who provides a place in the sun (or the spotlight) for the poor orphan. 

Puppet monsters

Other major characters also appear with puppets attached to their bodies: the sisters, prince Ramiro, his servant Dandini, and the men’s choir. Thankfully, everyone can free him- or herself of these figures if they want to. However, this does not make them free to perform at will – the directing of Antonio Latella leaves them stranded. 

But the music (led by Daniele Squeo) is full of magic, playfulness, and sensibility, and brings Rossini’s partiture to life with drive, a feel for the music, and humour. A few rhythmic coordination slip-ups are only minor problems – perhaps it was all a bit too much for the premiere.

The singers were marvellous too. Andrew Murphy (an Irish actor) in the role of Father Don Magnifico is a master of the virile Italian “buffo” style both in timbre as well as gesturing and facial expressions. Likewise, the two baritones Dandini and the “fairy” Alidoro are matched by the singers Vittorio Prato and Tassos Apostolou.

Juan José de León (prince Ramiro) is mesmerising with a light and unforced tenor and a smart costume. Vasilisa Berzhanskaya plays not merely a sentimental and suffering Cinderella but also performs her role as a strong woman at times. Her flawless colour garlands, her delicate Piani and the full-breasted timbre make up for the uninspired production. Rossini’s music always wins, the current Theater Basel brochure claims. This is true – even if it isn’t easy!

One person injured at the Vice Club in Basel

A 21-year-old man was attacked and injured by an unidentified person at the Vice Club in Basel at Steinentorstrasse in the early hours of Saturday morning. Current investigations by the criminal police reveal that there had been an argument between four unidentified persons and the victim in the club’s smokers’ lounge at around 2.30am.

All of a sudden, one of the unidentified men hit the 21-year-old on the head. The four men were thrown out of the club by doormen. The victim had to be taken to the emergency department at the hospital for treatment. The attackers fled towards Steinenvorstadt. An immediate search remained unsuccessful.

The police are looking for an unidentified man, 195-200 cm tall, slim, dark skin, with dreadlocks. He was wearing a blue sweater and a black jacket. They are also looking for a second person who is about 195 cm tall and has an athletic build. He is dark-skinned and was wearing a beige jacket and a grey cap. The two other persons cannot be described in detail.

Anyone who can provide relevant details is requested to contact the criminal police of Basel-Stadt under the phone number 061 26 71 11 or to go to the nearest police station.

Robbery at Kleinhüningerstrasse

The police are looking for two men after a 49-year-old man was robbed and slightly injured at Kleinhüningerstrasse, near Giessliweg, also on the same evening. Current investigations by the criminal police of Basel-Stadt state that the 49-year-old was walking through Kleinhüningerstrasse towards Wiesendamm after a party at around 1am.

He was suddenly grabbed from behind and pulled to the ground by two unidentified persons. One of the attackers stole his wallet. The perpetrators then fled through Giessliweg towards Altrheinweg. An immediate search remained unsuccessful.

The police are looking for an unidentified man, 25-30 years old, between 175-180 cm tall, weighing between 80-90 kg. He was dark-skinned and of athletic build, had a deep voice and a well-groomed appearance. He was walking upright and self-confident, wore a cap or a bonnet and a scarf, and was dressed in darker clothing. The second unidentified attacker was also 25-30 years old, 175-180 cm tall, and weighed between 80-90 kg. He had dark skin and a round/oval face, thick eyebrows, an athletic build, a deep voice, was well-groomed and self-confident, was wearing a cap or a bonnet, a scarf, and darker clothes.

Anyone who can provide relevant details is requested to contact the criminal police of Basel-Stadt under the phone number 061 26 71 11 or to go to the nearest police station.