Laurent Pelly's production of La Fille du régiment is packed with humour and invention. The soldiers tramp over immense maps evoking the mountainous Tyrol, Marie irons mounds of laundry and peels sacks of potatoes, and Tonio rides into the Marquise's elegant drawing room on a tank. Crisply witty spoken dialogue (modernized by Agathe Mélinand) punctuates a score that combines catchy military tunes - the regimental song 'Chacun le sait' is especially stirring - with episodes of pathos, such as Marie's yearning 'Il faut partir' and Tonio's ardent 'Pour me rapprocher de Marie'. Other highlights include Tonio's bravura aria 'Pour mon âme', in which the tenor leaps to a succession of high Cs in one of opera's great showpieces.
Donizetti wrote La Fille du régiment towards the end of his 1838-40 stay in Paris. The opera had its premiere at the Opéra-Comique on 11 February 1840, quickly became popular and had further success in Italy in translation. It remained in the Opéra-Comique repertory for years, with 1,000 performances given between 1840 and 1908. Performances on Bastille Day were particularly popular! It was first heard in London at Her Majesty's Theatre in 1847, and finally had a triumphant premiere at Covent Garden in 1966 with virtuoso singers Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti as Marie and Tonio. Following another long absence, it became a regular part of The Royal Opera's repertory from 2007.
A good cast doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors in this lightweight comedy
A crisp and colourful farce with an authentic French accent