Aspiring opera singers receive training in many different areas including vocal technique, acting, foreign languages, and role preparation to help them prepare for the demands of the standard operatic repertoire. Many of the operatic roles within the standard repertoire are too demanding in their entirety for young singers who are still developing physically and intellectually. Vocal health is a great concern for young voice students and their teachers. An operatic role which demands more stamina or control than a student is currently capable of executing in a healthy way can result in vocal trauma. To avoid assigning repertoire to students which may push their limits, many undergraduate vocal students are not given the opportunity to perform an operatic role in its entirety until after they have graduated.
Pauline Viardot’s operetta Cendrillon provides a solution to the often difficult task of giving experience to young singers without causing them potential harm. The knowledge Viardot gained by having a career both as an opera singer and a voice teacher resulted in a composition which contains full operatic roles that many young singers could capably perform. Viardot was sensitive to the issues that many young singers face, and as a result, she created an operetta which voice faculty can feel comfortable assigning to their students. In order to understand the demands of Cendrillon on young opera singers, this project included a performance of the piece with undergraduate voice students, many of whom had never been in an opera before. Through this process and a comparison of Cendrillon with some of the repertoire these singers will encounter later in their careers, it is clear that Viardot’s insightful compositional style provided a smooth transition for these relatively inexperienced students.