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Sunday, March 09, 2014

An afternoon at the opera

Well it was an eventful day more tomorrow.

The afternoon was spent at Covent Garden to see Gaetano Donizetti's La Fille Du Regiment.

La Fille is a comedy and of course for an opera has a highly improbable plot.

Act 1
In the Tyrolean mountains, Marie, having been found on the battlefield as a baby by the soldiers of the twenty-first regiment, is adopted by them and follows her "fathers" as a vivandière. Her life is saved by the young Tyriolian  Tonio. She loves him, and as she has sworn only to belong to a member of the regiment, he enlists. She is separated from her lover, however, as she is recognised as her niece by the marchioness from letters which the honest sergeant Sulpice has saved. Marie bids farewell to her beloved regiment and to her lover and follows her relative.

Act 2
Marie's only pleasure, notwithstanding her riches, is conversing with old Sulpice, who has become an invalid and is living at the castle. She is to marry the son of the Duchess of Crakentorp and is almost reconciled to her fate when she hears martial music. Her old regiment arrives and with it Tonio as an officer. She throws all her finery into a heap, joyfully hails the troops and rushes into Tonio's arms. The duchess indignantly retires, and when the marchioness, who turns out to be Marie's mother, gives her consent, amid universal rejoicing she is married to Tonio.

Firstly there was lots of laughs, Patrizia Ciofi as Marie put in a good comic turn ably supported by Pietro Spagnoli as Sulpice and Ewa Podles as La Marquie de Berkenfield. Juan Diego Florez as Tonio was in very  fine voice. His aria "Ah! mes amis, quelle jour de fete!" got a rousing ovation. He has a very easy natural voice and is VERY listenable.

The role of Duchess of Crakenthorp is a non singing one and has been played by... Dawn French and Ann Widecombe!! amongst others. Today it was taken by Dame Kiri de Kanawa. As it was likely to be Dame Kiri's last performance at Covent Garden they have interpolated and aria from Puccini’s Edgar for her to sing. I'd normally raise my eyebrows at this but as it is likely to be only chance to hear Dame Kiri sing then I think that's a good thing :)

If La Fille is not a truly GREAT OPERA it is GREAT FUN and after all isn't that a  good thing?

1 comment:

Tricia Ryder said...

Great to listen again... :)