October 03, 2023
Get to know: Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment
Prepare to laugh and laugh and laugh again! Laurent Pelly's production of The Daughter of the Regiment is side-splittingly funny, as grateful audiences have discovered in London, Vienna, and New York. The humor in this staging is a fabulous fit for Gaetano Donizetti's uproarious comedy, bringing fresh energy to a work that has been delighting audiences ever since Paris's operagoers applauded the 1839 premiere.
The heroine is Marie, whose overflowing energy is matched by her warm heart. Having been discovered as a foundling, she has been raised by the soldiers of the valiant 21st Regiment as their dear “daughter.” Marie is eager to marry Tonio, the young man who previously saved her life. But when the Marquise announces that she’s Marie’s aunt, and that the girl is actually of noble birth, Marie is carted off to the Marquise’s castle to learn how to be a lady — a task she hates with a passion! There’s to be an arranged marriage with the son of the imperious Duchess of Crakentorp, but the Marquise (who, as it turns out, is really Marie’s mother) finally yields to Marie’s wish to marry her beloved Tonio. The opera ends joyously with Marie’s exhilarating salute to the glory of France!
Every musical number in this opera shines, including Marie’s two exquisitely lyrical arias. Knowing that he had to give her lots of chances to sparkle, Donizetti contrasts those arias with two effervescent duets, in which the soprano can show a captivating rapport with her tenor and baritone. She also gets one of the most spectacular comic tours de force in opera – the music lesson scene, which starts out sweetly but quickly turns to hilarious mayhem! Tenors long to play Tonio just for his showpiece, which boasts nine–count ‘em–nine high Cs!
Audiences familiar with Lisette Oropesa’s successes at the Met, and in virtually every other major international house, have been clamoring for her Lyric debut. In Marie she has a role ideally suited to her glistening voice. As Tonio, the company will welcome back Lawrence Brownlee, everyone’s favorite bel canto tenor, returning for one of the many high-flying roles that he’s made his own.
Completing the central quartet are the Sulpice of legendary Alessandro Corbelli, who premiered the Pelly production at London’s Royal Opera House; and the rich-voiced Ronnita Miller, whose comic Marquise will mark a wonderful change of pace after her Lyric success as the earth-goddess Erda in Wagner’s Ring cycle. On the podium, in her Lyric debut, is Italian conductor Speranza Scappucci — one of today's premier Donizetti interpreters.