- La fille du régiment
La fille du régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) is an opéra comique in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. It was written while the composer was living in Paris, with a French libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard.
La figlia del reggimento, a slightly different Italian-language version (in translation by Callisto Bassi), was adapted to the tastes of the Italian public.
La fille du régiment was first performed on February 11, 1840, by the Paris Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse, then at La Scala, Milan, on October 30, 1840. It was presented in English at the Surrey Theatre in London on December 21, 1847, and was repeated in the same season in Italian with Jenny Lind. New Orleans saw the first American performance on March 7, 1843. It was frequently performed in New York, the role of Marie being a favorite with Jenny Lind, Henriette Sontag, Pauline Lucca, and Adelina Patti. It was presented at the Metropolitan Opera with Marcella Sembrich, and Charles Gilibert (Sulpice) in 1902/03. It was then at the Manhattan Opera House in 1909 with Luisa Tetrazzini, John McCormack, and Charles Gilibert, and again with Frieda Hempel and Antonio Scotti in the same roles at the Met on December 17, 1917.
This opera is famous for the aria "Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête!" (sometimes referred to as "Pour mon âme"), which has been called the "Mount Everest" for tenors. It features nine high Cs and comes comparatively early in the opera, giving the singer less time to warm up his voice. Luciano Pavarotti's stardom is reckoned from a performance alongside Joan Sutherland at the Met, when he "leapt over the 'Becher's Brook' of the string of high Cs with an aplomb that left everyone gasping."
More recently, Juan Diego Flórez performed "Ah! mes amis" at La Scala, and then, on popular demand, repeated it, "breaking a 74-year embargo on encores at the legendary Milanese opera house." He repeated this feat on April 21, 2008, the opening night of the 2007 London production at the Met, with Natalie Dessay as Marie. This Met production was broadcast in high definition video to movie theaters worldwide on April 26, 2008.
W. S. Gilbert wrote a burlesque adaptation of the opera, La Vivandière, in 1867.
Role Voice type Premiere cast, February 11, 1840
(Conductor: Gaetano Donizetti)
Marie, a vivandière coloratura soprano Giulietta Borghese Tonio, a young Tyrolean tenor Mécène Marié de l'Isle Sergeant Sulpice bass Henry Deshaynes ("Henri") The Marquise of Birkenfeld contralto Marie-Julie Halligner ("Boulanger") Hortensius, a butler bass D. Delaunay-Ricquier A corporal bass Georges-Marie-Vincent Palianti A peasant tenor Henry Blanchard The Duchess of Krakenthorp spoken role Marguerite Blanchard A notary spoken role Léon French soldiers, Tyrolean people, domestic servants of the Duchess
- Time: Early 19th century
- Place: The Swiss Tyrol
The Tyrolean mountains
On their way to Austria, the terrified Marquise of Berkenfeld and her butler, Hortensius, have paused in their journey because a skirmish has broken out. When the Marquise hears from the villagers that the French troops[N 1] have retreated, she comments on the rude manners of the French people ("Pour une femme de mon nom"). Sulpice, sergeant of the 21st regiment, assures everyone that his men will restore peace and order. He is joined by Marie, the mascot, or "daughter", of the regiment, which adopted her as an orphaned child. When Sulpice questions her about a young man she has been seen with, she explains that he is Tonio, a local Tyrolean who once saved her life. Troops of the 21st arrive with a prisoner: this same Tonio, who says he has been looking for Marie. She steps in to save him, and while he toasts his new friends, Marie sings the regimental song ("Chacun le sait"). Tonio is ordered to follow the soldiers, but he escapes and returns to declare his love to Marie. Sulpice surprises them, and Marie must admit to Tonio that she can marry only a soldier of the 21st.
The Marquise asks Sulpice for an escort to her castle. When he hears the name Berkenfeld, Sulpice remembers a letter he found near the young Marie on the battlefield. The Marquise soon admits that she knew the girl's father and says that Marie is the long-lost daughter of her sister. The child had been left in the care of the Marquise, but was lost. Shocked by the girl's rough manners, the Marquise is determined to take her niece to her castle and give her a proper education. Tonio has enlisted so that he can marry her ("Ah, mes amis"). But Marie has to leave both her regiment and the man she loves ("Il faut partir").
The Marquise has arranged a marriage between Marie and the Duke of Krakenthorp. Sulpice is also at the castle, recovering from an injury, and is supposed to be helping the Marquise with her plans. The Marquise gives Marie a singing lesson, accompanying her at the piano. Encouraged by Sulpice, Marie slips in phrases of the regimental song, and the Marquise loses her temper (Trio: "Le jour naissait dans la bocage"). Left alone, Marie thinks about the meaninglessness of money and position ("Par le rang et l'opulence"). She hears soldiers marching in the distance and is delighted when the whole regiment files into the hall; she leads them in singing a patriotic tribute ("Salut à la France"). Tonio, Marie, and Sulpice are reunited. Tonio asks for Marie's hand. The Marquise is unmoved by the young man's declaration that Marie is his whole life ("Pour me rapprocher de Marie"). She declares her niece engaged to another man and dismisses Tonio. Alone with Sulpice, the Marquise confesses the truth: Marie is her own illegitimate daughter whom she abandoned, fearing social disgrace.
Hortensius announces the arrival of the wedding party, headed by the groom's mother, the Duchess of Krakenthorp. Marie refuses to leave her room, but when Sulpice tells her that the Marquise is her mother, the surprised girl declares that she cannot go against her mother's wishes and agrees to marry a man that she does not love. As she is about to sign the marriage contract, the soldiers of the 21st, led by Tonio, storm in to rescue their "daughter". The guests are horrified to learn that Marie was a canteen girl, but they change their opinion when she tells them that she can never repay the debt she owes the soldiers. The Marquise is so moved by her daughter's goodness of heart that she gives her permission to marry Tonio. Everyone joins in a final "Salut à la France".
- ^ In the original, the soldiers are Austrians, but on the stage they have been portrayed as Frenchmen. The Italian version is set in Switzerland instead of Tyrol.
(Marie, Tonio, Sulpice, La Marquise)
Opera House and Orchestra
Label 1950 Lina Pagliughi,
RAI Milan Orchestra and Chorus
CD: Aura Music
Cat: LRC 1115
1967 Joan Sutherland,
Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus
CD: Decca «Originals»
Cat: 478 1366
1986 June Anderson,
Opéra National de Paris Orchestra and Chorus
(Video recording of a performance at the Opéra-Comique,
see Opera, August 1986)
VHS Video: Bel Canto Society
1995 Edita Gruberová,
Deon van der Walt,
Munich Radio Orchestra and Bavarian Radio Chorus
Cat: NC 070566-2
2008 Natalie Dessay,
Juan Diego Flórez,
Duchess: Dawn French
Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus,
from a broadcast on 27 January 2007
DVD: Virgin Classics
- ^ "Goodbye Pavarotti: Forget the Pavarotti with hankies. He was better younger" by James Naughtie, The Times (London), 7 September 2007. Retrieved 22 April 2008
- ^ "Lederhosen and Laughs as Met Tenor Struts His High C" by Manuela Hoelterhoff, Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 22 April 2008
- ^ Osborne, p. 273
- ^ Source for recording information:Recording(s) of La fille du régiment on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
- ^ Royal Opera House 2008: review
- ^ Royal Opera House 2008, excerpts on YouTube
- Ashbrook, William, Donizetti and His Operas, Cambridge University Press, 1982, ISBN 052123526X ISBN 0-521-23526-X
- Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-140-29312-4
- Kobbé, Gustav., The Complete Opera Book (Putnam's, London & New York), First English edition 1922, 355–358.(For performance history)
- Melitz, Leo, The Opera Goer's Complete Guide by Leo Melitz, 1921 version.(Source of synopsis)
- Osborne, Charles, The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press, 1994 ISBN 0931340713
- Weinstock, Herbert, Donizetti and the World of Opera in Italy, Paris, and Vienna in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century, New York: Pantheon Books, 1963. ISBN 63-13703
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