“Cendrillon” is a fairy tale that features a young girl whose dreams come true thanks to a faithful Fairy Godmother. At the Met, Alice Coote and Joyce DiDonato are headlining the opera about hope that has captivated children for years.
On Thursday, April 26, 2018, the two mezzo-sopranos were playing the role of the Fairy Godmother for the children of Time In Kids. At a private event, located at 10 Hudson yards, the two operatic superstars gave a concert to many of the greatest art patrons in New York City, urging them on to support the organization.
The space was massive, minimal, and despite its large windows revealing the vast cityscape, seemingly cold. And yet the environment was warm and friendly, the two divas taking turns with the organization’s founder, Cyndie Bellen-Berthézène, talking about the importance of supporting the organization.
“We started out with 30 kids per week. Today we have 600 kids every week. They come out of school. They get bussed out. We spend an hour and a half with them and then they go back to school,” Bellen-Berthézène as part of her introduction. She would follow up later noting that the plan is for the organization to build a center where they can expand the program and include more children.
DiDonato, after singing Strauss’ “Morgen,” noted that the importance of supporting art can be revolutionary for any child.
She told the story of baritone Michael Mayes, who grew up in a difficult world where many young people wound up going down the wrong path. However, she noted that ultimately, he managed to move beyond that world thanks to one thing – art.
“He talked about this character of uneducated murderer Joe [in ‘Dead Man Walking’] that he had to play in a press conference. And Michael sat there said, ‘I knew Joe when I was growing up. I knew many Joes when I was growing up. You know the difference between me and Joe? Joe never knew art. I got to express myself through art. Joe expressed himself through violence. And that’s his life,’” she narrated. “The arts are so important to children’s growth. We have so underestimated them. Through them, we learn math, language, writing, speaking, empathy, connection.”
The evening featured performances from “Cendrillon” with Coote and DiDonato as well as shorter pieces littered throughout, all accompanied by pianist Bryan Wagorn.
This is just the latest in a series of fundraising concerts in support of Time In Kids. The organization was also featured in a concert last winter entitled “Puccini with Passion,” where tenor Brian Jagde and soprano Ailyn Pérez showcased their respective talents. Meanwhile, numerous opera stars have worked with the children first-hand, including Luca Pisaroni, Pérez, Jagde, Serena Malfi, and David Bizic, among others.