Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Negotiating the Trouser Role in Jules Massenet's and Henri Cain's Cendrillon (1899)

The 1899 French opera Cendrillon, with libretto by Henri Cain and score by Jules Massenet, revolves around the relationship of Cendrillon (Cinderella) and Prince Charmant (Prince Charming), who are both played and sung by women. Since Prince Charmant is a trouser role, the audience sees a character in male costume but hears a female voice. Though Cendrillon and the prince end the opera united, the many obstacles and imbalances of their relationship throughout the plot work to undo the finality of this ending. I argue that the strange nature of this relationship results from attempts on the part of its creators to balance the tension between, on one hand, the requirement of the plot for a romantic ending between Cendrillon and Prince Charmant, and, on the other, the unusual and gender-subversive presence of the trouser role in the central romantic relationship, which allows two sopranos to live "happily ever after."