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Alma Deutscher at the California Theatre

When I was invited to the first night of Alma Deutscher’s opera, Cinderella, I was in two minds. How on earth could a child prodigy of 12 write an opera that wouldn’t be pantomime? The hype was great. The BBC interviewed her for an hour. “60 Minutes” lent her celebratory status soon afterwards. How wrong I was to have any doubts.

The Program

The opera set in Transylvania was astonishingly good – especially the last two acts – and Opera San José were simply at their very best. Wonderful acting, captivating singing – especially Cinderella (Vanessa Becerra) - extraordinary sets, each better than the next, ravishing costumes, and a musical score with an understated and haunting lyricism. All expertly guided by conductor, Jane Glover, in a tight ensemble work in which the star was…..Alma… She played piano and violin solos with to accentuate certain arias and then, in a touch of supreme operatic bravura was on the stage in the final act playing the organ in the majestic cathedral. Walt Disney could not have managed this as expertly.

Cinderella - The Cathedral

Unashamedly I lost myself in the sheer joy of the opera and its felicitous conclusion. I wasn’t the only one. Everyone and stood and cheered, of course. Perhaps a thousand of us. Most remarkable, was that the tight orchestral ensemble broke up and, backs arched from their pit, clapped and cheered Alma. Everyone present knew they had been part of something extraordinary. Whatever happens next to Alma (a thought in all our minds), this evening was sublime, magnificently produced and played, and gloriously enriching in every way. Alma is simply remarkable (and thank heavens reassuringly grounded).

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