You start with the classic Cinderella story. You remove the fairy godmother, the enchanted dress, the carriage, the clock striking midnight and the search to find the girl whose foot matches the shoe, and what do you end up with? Rossini's La Cenerentola, currently playing at the Metropolitan Opera.
Once you get over the disappointment that Rossini has decided to dispense with all the favourite pieces of the Cinderella story, however, you can settle down to a charming, at times exhilarating, if not particularly profound evening of opera.
The star of the show is the Russian mezzo Olga Borodina in the title role. While her technical skills are unquestionable, the rich lustre of her voice seems to me ill suited to the effervescence of Rossini's music. Her prince was played by the British tenor Barry Banks, with a voice that was both strong and sweet, although he was trapped in a costume that was seriously unflattering to his short stature. The rest of the cast was of the high standard that one expects from the Met.
The production, by Cesare Lievi, was something of a departure for the Met. This was no hyper-realistic period drama. Rather, the stage picture was of distorted perspective and frequent surreal touches, such as the highly-stylised men's chorus. While not everything about the production worked - the hapless tenor was left high-and-dry on a wedding cake for much of the final scene - it is still very welcome to see the Met trying to be at least a little adventurous in its production. I fear my next outing, to Verdi's Aida, will be nothing if not conservative.