Madame de la Haltière’s townhouse. The servants of the household are complaining about Madame de la Haltière when Pandolfe, her husband, enters. He agrees that his wife is cruel and bad-tempered. He regrets marrying her and worries about his daughter, Cinderella, who is forced to do household chores and is denied the expensive clothes worn by her stepsisters. Just as he swears to put a stop to their bullying, Pandolfe hears his wife coming and runs out of the room. Madame de la Haltière enters with her daughters, and they discuss preparations for the royal ball being held that night. An army of tailors and hairdressers enter and dress the three women. While the servants laugh at the ridiculous outfits they have chosen, Pandolfe joins his wife and stepdaughters, who are convinced they will win the prince’s affections. After her family has left, Cinderella enters alone and thinks longingly of her stepsisters’ attendance at the ball, although she tries to convince herself to find enjoyment in her chores. Eventually she falls asleep, dreaming of the royal celebrations. While Cinderella dozes, her Fairy Godmother appears. She summons an army of fairies to transform Cinderella’s rags into a beautiful gown. Cinderella awakens and is amazed by her transformation. As she climbs into a magical carriage, her Fairy Godmother warns her that she must leave by midnight, when the spell will end.
The royal palace. Prince Charming is withdrawn and sad, despite the best efforts of his courtiers to entertain, and he longs for someone to love. The King then enters and commands the Prince to attend the evening’s ball. He instructs the Prince to choose a daughter of a noble family to marry. The Prince is introduced to a parade of women who are all desperate to be his bride, including the Haltière sisters. When Cinderella arrives at the ball, her beauty and poise stun the crowded room, and the Prince is immediately enthralled. Once they are alone, the Prince expresses his admiration for her. But just as he declares his love, the clock strikes midnight, and Cinderella is forced to flee.
Madame de la Haltière’s townhouse. A frightened Cinderella arrives home, realizing she has lost her slipper. Shortly afterward, her family also returns, complaining about a mysterious woman who offended the Prince at the ball. They claim that after this unknown lady left, the Prince and the royal household mocked her. Cinderella is visibly horrified by this false report, and seeing her distress, her father is goaded into finally standing up for her. He kicks his wife and stepdaughters out of the room and promises Cinderella that they will leave the city and return to the countryside where they were once happy. Cinderella, however, is heartbroken and decides she cannot burden her father with her grief. She runs away.
Cinderella’s room. Pandolfe watches his sleeping daughter, remembering how he found her, nearly frozen, next to a stream. When Cinderella awakens, she asks about her condition. Pandolfe tells her that, in her semi-conscious state, she was babbling about Prince Charming, an enchanted oak tree, and a glass slipper. Believing it all to have been a dream, a devastated Cinderella consoles herself by looking forward to the return of spring. Just then, Madame de la Haltière arrives with the news that the Prince is summoning princesses from around the world in search of the owner of the lost glass slipper. Realizing it wasn’t a dream after all, Cinderella begs her Fairy Godmother for help.
The royal palace. The world’s princesses all arrive at the palace to try on the slipper. The Prince is desperate to find his unknown love. The voice of the Fairy Godmother rings out, and Cinderella appears. She has come to return the Prince’s heart; he insists she keep it. The crowd acknowledges Cinderella as their future queen. Cinderella’s family arrives, and an astonished Madame de la Haltière loudly expresses her adoration for her stepdaughter. The entire company turns to the audience and celebrates the story’s happy conclusion.