Massenet, Jules


Massenet, Jules

Cendrillon, opera in four acts (Vocal score with French libretto)

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Massenet, Jules – Cendrillon, opera in four acts (Vocal score with French libretto)


For more information about the piece read the preface to the full score:

Opera in four acts

The project for the opera „Cendrillon,“ performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1899, resulted from a lengthy process that began in 1890.
After the success of „Esclarmonde“ (1889), based on medieval chivalric tales, Massenet realized that fairy-tale themes suited his musical language well. He decided to write an opera where the magical dimension was even more pronounced: a project for an opera based on a fairy tale was conceived, with Théodore de Banville writing the story. However, this was interrupted by the sudden death of the writer.

In the following years, Massenet worked on other operas, such as the mystical tale „Thaïs,“ and later experimented with a new type of theatre directly inspired by Italian Verismo: „La Navarraise,“ a „lyric episode“ in two acts with a libretto by Henri Cain, completed in November 1893 and successfully presented in London in June 1894. 

During the rehearsals of „La Navarraise,“ Cain proposed to Massenet a libretto inspired by the Cinderella fairy tale. They developed the narrative structure of “Cendrillon” during these rehearsals, with collaboration from English librettist Paul Collin.

The composer worked on the new opera throughout 1895, and orchestration was completed in Nice in February of the following year. However, „Cendrillon“ was staged only three years later because the director of Opéra-Comique, Carvalho, for the subsequent opera season (1897-1898), preferred to stage „Sapho“. This opera, which Massenet had finished composing in 1897, was based on the novel by Alphonse Daudet, and its veristic flavour was particularly appealing to the audience of that time. Therefore, it was staged before „Cendrillon.“


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