Seattle #Opera brings Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment to the stage

Sarah Coburn as Marie and Lawrence Brownlee as Tonio © Elise Bakketun photo, courtesy of the Seattle Opera

Sarah Coburn as Marie and Lawrence Brownlee as Tonio © Elise Bakketun photo, courtesy of the Seattle Opera

I have to admit I was unfamiliar with the opera La fille du régiment (the Daughter of the Regiment) by Donizetti before I started writing this article. I took the opportunity of this upcoming presentation by the Seattle Opera to find out a bit more about it.

The plot in essence is about two young lovers who break down the social barriers between the military and polite society in order to be together, making sure to have lots of fun along the way. The score includes an exhilarating showcase aria, terrific ensemble pieces, and a healthy dose of musical parody.

For this production, the Seattle Opera has put together a great ensemble cast, as always. One interesting note is that the sets and costumes are from the Teatro Comunale di Bologna.

Photo Seattle Opera’s 2013 production of The Daughter of the Regiment, pictured here at Houston Grand Opera, comes from the Teatro Comunale di Bologna © Andrew Cloud, courtesy of the Seattle OperaPhoto Seattle Opera’s 2013 production of The Daughter of the Regiment, pictured here at Houston Grand Opera, comes from the Teatro Comunale di Bologna © Andrew Cloud, courtesy of the Seattle Opera

The opera was first performed on February 11th, 1840 by the Paris Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse and was not immediately popular. Some believe that this opera was an important stepping stone in the development of the modern-day Operetta, which has tended to be more popular abroad than within Italy. Despite its bumpy start, the opera eventually became quite popular at the Opéra-Comique. During its first 80 years, it reached its 500th performance at the theatre in 1871 and its 1,000th in 1908. The opera was first performed in Italy at La Scala, Milan, on October 3rd, 1840 in Italian with recitatives by Donizetti replacing the spoken dialogue; apparently, it was generally considered “worthless” and as a result received only six performances. It was not until 1928 when Toti dal Monte sang Marie that the opera began to be truly appreciated in Italy. It received its first performance in America on March 7th, 1843 at the Théâtre d’Orléans in New Orleans and was later presented at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1902/03 season.

According to the article I read in Wikipedia, the 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. Here is a link to a recording of that aria: https://soundcloud.com/seattle-opera/nine-high-cs-pour-mon-me-from/s-j7YeZ

It features nine high Cs and comes comparatively early in the opera, giving the singer less time to warm up his voice. Luciano Pavarotti sang this aria alongside Joan Sutherland at the Met, when he mastered the string of high Cs with such aplomb that it left everyone gasping.

The opening night performance is Saturday October 19th, and the opera runs until November 2nd. The two co-stars Lawrence Brownlee and Sarah Coburn have significant credentials to perform their roles and it looks like it is going to be an entertaining opera. Here is a link to a video by the Seattle Opera that features the co-stars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tV-Hh9q0iQk

Here is a link for more information about the production:

Ci vediamo all’opera, Lina

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