|La fille du régiment|
|Opéra comique by Gaetano Donizetti|
Juliette Borghèse as Marie and François-Louis Henry as Sulpice in the premiere
11 February 1840
Salle de la Bourse, Paris
La fille du régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) is an opéra comique in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti, set to a French libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard. It was first performed on 11 February 1840 by the Paris Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse.
Opéra comique is a genre of French opera that contains spoken dialogue and arias. It emerged from the popular opéras comiques en vaudevilles of the Fair Theatres of St Germain and St Laurent, which combined existing popular tunes with spoken sections. Associated with the Paris theatre of the same name, opéra comique is not always comic or light in nature; Carmen, perhaps the most famous opéra comique, is a tragedy.
Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer. Along with Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, Donizetti was a leading composer of the bel canto opera style during the first half of the nineteenth century. Donizetti's close association with the bel canto style was undoubtedly an influence on other composers such as Giuseppe Verdi.
A libretto is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or musical. The term libretto is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as the Mass, requiem and sacred cantata, or the story line of a ballet.
The opera was written by Donizetti while he was living in Paris between 1838 and 1840 preparing a revised version of his then-unperformed Italian opera, Poliuto , as Les martyrs for the Paris Opéra. Since Martyrs was delayed, the composer had time to write the music for La fille, his first opera set to a French text, as well as to stage the French version of Lucia di Lammermoor as Lucie de Lammermoor
Poliuto is a three-act tragedia lirica by Gaetano Donizetti from the Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, which was based on Pierre Corneille's play Polyeucte written in 1641–42. It reflected the life of the early Christian martyr Saint Polyeuctus.
Les martyrs is a four-act grand opera by Gaetano Donizetti set to a French libretto by Eugène Scribe. The libretto was based on one written by Salvadore Cammarano for an original Italian version known as Poliuto, which was not performed until after the composer's death. Pierre Corneille's play Polyeucte written in 1641–42, the story of which reflected the life of the early Christian martyr Saint Polyeuctus, is the original source for both versions.
Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian-language libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor.
As La fille, it quickly became a popular success, partly because of the famous aria "Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête!", which requires of the tenor no fewer than nine high Cs. La figlia del reggimento, a slightly different Italian-language version (in translation by Calisto Bassi), was adapted to the tastes of the Italian public.
In music, an aria is a self-contained piece for one voice, with or without instrumental or orchestral accompaniment, normally part of a larger work.
Calisto Bassi was an Italian opera librettist.
The opening night was "a barely averted disaster."Apparently the lead tenor was frequently off pitch. The noted French tenor Gilbert Duprez, who was present, later observed in his Souvenirs d'un chanteur: "Donizetti often swore to me how his self-esteem as a composer had suffered in Paris. He was never treated there according to his merits. I myself saw the unsuccess, almost the collapse, of La fille du régiment."
Gilbert-Louis Duprez was a French tenor, singing teacher and minor composer who famously pioneered the delivery of the operatic high C from the chest. He also created the role of Edgardo in the popular bel canto-era opera Lucia di Lammermoor in 1835.
It received a highly negative review from the French critic and composer Hector Berlioz ( Journal des débats , 16 February 1840), who claimed it could not be taken seriously by either the public or its composer, although Berlioz did concede that some of the music, "the little waltz that serves as the entr'acte and the trio dialogué ... lack neither vivacity nor freshness."The source of Berlioz's hostility is revealed later in his review:
Louis-Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer. His output includes orchestral works such as the Symphonie fantastique and Harold in Italy, choral pieces including the Requiem and L'enfance du Christ, his three operas Benvenuto Cellini, Les Troyens and Béatrice et Bénédict, and works of hybrid genres such as the "dramatic symphony" Roméo et Juliette and the "dramatic legend" La damnation de Faust.
The Journal des débats was a French newspaper, published between 1789 and 1944 that changed title several times. Created shortly after the first meeting of the Estates-General of 1789, it was, after the outbreak of the French Revolution, the exact record of the debates of the National Assembly, under the title Journal des Débats et des Décrets.
What, two major scores for the Opéra, Les martyrs and Le duc d'Albe , two others at the Théâtre de la Renaissance, Lucie de Lammermoor and L'ange de Nisida , two at the Opéra-Comique, La fille du régiment and another whose title is still unknown, and yet another for the Théâtre-Italien, will have been written or transcribed in one year by the same composer! M[onsieur] Donizetti seems to treat us like a conquered country; it is a veritable invasion. One can no longer speak of the opera houses of Paris, but only of the opera houses of M[onsieur] Donizetti.
The Paris Opera is the primary opera and ballet company of France. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d'Opéra, and shortly thereafter was placed under the leadership of Jean-Baptiste Lully and officially renamed the Académie Royale de Musique, but continued to be known more simply as the Opéra. Classical ballet as it is known today arose within the Paris Opera as the Paris Opera Ballet and has remained an integral and important part of the company. Currently called the Opéra National de Paris, it mainly produces operas at its modern 2700-seat theatre Opéra Bastille which opened in 1989, and ballets and some classical operas at the older 1970-seat Palais Garnier which opened in 1875. Small scale and contemporary works are also staged in the 500-seat Amphitheatre under the Opéra Bastille.
Le duc d'Albe or Il duca d'Alba is an opera in three acts originally composed by Gaetano Donizetti in 1839 to a French language libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier. Its title, which translates as The Duke of Alba, refers to its protagonist Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba. The work was intended for performance at the Paris Opéra. However, William Ashbrook notes that "Rosine Stoltz, the director's mistress, disliked her intended role of Hélène and Donizetti put the work aside when it was half completed".
The name Théâtre de la Renaissance has been used successively for three distinct Parisian theatre companies. The first two companies, which were short-lived enterprises in the 19th century, used the Salle Ventadour, now an office building on the Rue Méhul in the 2nd arrondissement.
The critic and poet Théophile Gautier, who was not a rival composer, had a somewhat different point of view: "M[onsieur] Donizetti is capable of paying with music that is beautiful and worthy for the cordial hospitality which France offers him in all her theatres, subsidized or not."
Despite its bumpy start, the opera soon became hugely 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 3 October 1840, in Italian with recitatives by Donizetti replacing the spoken dialogue.It was thought "worthless" and received only six performances. It was not until 1928 when Toti Dal Monte sang Marie that the opera began to be appreciated in Italy.
La fille received its first performance in America on 7 March 1843 at the Théâtre d'Orléans in New Orleans.The New Orleans company premiered the work in New York City on 19 July 1843 with Julie Calvé as Marie. The Spirit of the Times (22 July) counted it a great success, and, although the score was "thin" and not up to the level of Anna Bolena or L'elisir d'amore , some of Donizetti's "gems" were to be found in it. The Herald (21 July) was highly enthusiastic, especially in its praise of Calvé: "Applause is an inadequate term, ... vehement cheering rewarded this talented prima donna." Subsequently the opera was performed frequently in New York, the role of Marie being a favorite with Jenny Lind, Henriette Sontag, Pauline Lucca, Anna Thillon and Adelina Patti.
First given in England in Italian, it appeared on 27 May 1847 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London (with Jenny Lind and Luigi Lablache). Later—on 21 December 1847 in English—it was presented at the Surrey Theatre in London.
W. S. Gilbert wrote a burlesque adaptation of the opera, La Vivandière , in 1867.
The Metropolitan Opera gave the first performances with Marcella Sembrich, and Charles Gilibert (Sulpice) during the 1902/03 season. It was then followed by performances 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 17 December 1917.
It was revived at the Royal Opera, London, in 1966 for Joan Sutherland. On 13 February 1970, in concert at Carnegie Hall, Beverly Sills sang the first performance in New York since Lily Pons performed it at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1943.
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 21 April 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 26 April 2008.
As a non-singing role, the Duchess of Crakenthorp is often played by non-operatic celebrities, who have included actresses such as Dawn French, Bea Arthur, and Hermione Gingold, as well as retired opera greats such as Kiri Te Kanawa and Montserrat Caballé. In 2016, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a lifelong opera fan, played the Duchess on opening night of the Washington National Opera's production.
Today, the opera is frequently performed to the point that it has become part of the standard repertoire.
The opera was filmed in a silent film in 1929; a sound film with Anny Ondra in 1933 in German and separately in French; in 1953; and in 1962 with John van Kesteren as Tonio.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast, 11 February 1840|
(Conductor: Gaetano Donizetti)
|Marie, a vivandière||coloratura soprano||Juliette Borghese|
|Tonio, a young Tyrolean||tenor||Mécène Marié de l'Isle|
|Sergeant Sulpice||bass||François-Louis Henry ("Henri")|
|The Marquise of Berkenfield||contralto||Marie-Julie Halligner ("Boulanger")|
|Hortensius, a butler||bass||Edmond-Jules Delaunay-Ricquier|
|A corporal||bass||Georges-Marie-Vincent Palianti|
|A peasant||tenor||Henry Blanchard|
|The Duchess of Crakentorp||spoken role||Marguerite Blanchard|
|A notary||spoken role||Léon|
|French soldiers, Tyrolean people, domestic servants of the Duchess|
Fighting is raging in the Tyrols and the Marquise of Berkenfield, who is traveling in the area, is alarmed to the point of needing smelling salts to be administered by her faithful steward, Hortensius. While a chorus of villagers express their fear, the Marquise does the same: Pour une femme de mon nom / "For a lady of my family, what a time, alas, is war-time". As the French can be seen to be moving away, all express their relief. Suddenly, and provoking the fear of the remaining women who scatter, Sergeant Sulpice of the Twenty-First Regiment of the French army [in the Italian version it is the Eleventh] arrives and assures everyone that the regiment will restore order.
Marie, the vivandière (canteen girl) of the Regiment, enters, and Sulpice is happy to see her: (Duet: Sulpice and Marie: Mais, qui vient? Tiens, Marie, notre fil / "But who is this? Well, well, if it isn't our daughter Marie".) Then, as he questions her about a young man she has been seen with, she identifies him as Tonio, a Tyrolean [in the Italian version: Swiss]. At that moment, Tonio is brought in as a prisoner, because he has been seen prowling around the camp. Marie saves him from the soldiers, who demand that he must die, by explaining that he had saved her life when she nearly fell while mountain-climbing. All toast Tonio, who pledges allegiance to France, and Marie is encouraged to sing the regimental song: (Aria: Chacun le sait, chacun le dit / "Everyone knows it, everyone says it".) Sulpice leads the soldiers off, taking Tonio with them, but he runs back to join her. She quickly tells him that he must gain the approval of her "fathers": the soldiers of the Regiment, who found her on the battlefield as an abandoned baby, and adopted her. He proclaims his love for her (Aria, then love duet with Marie: Depuis l'instant ou, dans mes bras / "Ever since that moment when you fell and / I caught you, all trembling in my arms..."), and then the couple express their love for each other.
At that point, Sulpice returns, surprising the young couple, who leave. The Marquise arrives with Hortensius, initially afraid of the soldier, but is calmed by him. The Marquise explains that they are trying to return to her castle and asks for an escort. When hearing the name Berkenfield, Sulpice immediately recognizes it from a letter found with Marie as an infant. It is discovered that Marie is actually the Marquise's long-lost niece. Marie returns and is surprised to be introduced to her aunt. The Marquise commands that Marie accompany her and that she will be taught to be a proper lady. Marie bids farewell to her beloved regiment just as Tonio enters announcing that he has enlisted in their ranks: (Aria: Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête / "Ah, my friends, what an exciting day".) When he proclaims his love for Marie, the soldiers are horrified, but agree to his pleading for her hand. However, they tell him that she is about to leave with her aunt: (Marie, aria: Il faut partir / "I must leave you!"). In a choral finale in which all join, she leaves with the Marquise and Tonio is enraged.
Marie has been living in the Marquise's castle for several months. In a conversation with Sulpice, the Marquise describes how she has sought to modify most of Marie's military manners and make her into a lady of fashion, suitable to be married to her nephew, the Duke of Crakentorp. Although reluctant, Marie has agreed and Sulpice is asked to encourage her. Marie enters and is asked to play the piano, but appears to prefer more martial music when encouraged by Sulpice and sings the regimental song. The Marquise sits down at the piano and attempts to work through the piece with Marie who becomes more and more distracted and, along with Sulpice, takes up the regimental song.
Marie is left alone: (Aria: Par le rang et par l'opulence / "They have tried in vain to dazzle me"). As she is almost reconciled to her fate, she hears martial music and is joyously happy (Cabaletta: Oh! transport! oh! douce ivresse / "Oh bliss! oh ectasy!"), and the Regiment arrives. With it is Tonio, now an officer. The soldiers express their joy at seeing Marie, and Marie, Tonio and Sulpice are joyfully reunited, although he tries to tell her something she does not know but is ignored (Trio, Marie, Sulpice, Tonio: Tous les trois réunis / "We three are reunited"). The Marquise enters, horrified to see soldiers. Tonio asks for Marie's hand, explaining that he risked his life for her (Aria, Tonio: Pour me rapprocher de Marie, je me enrôlai, pauvre soldat / "In order to woo Marie, I enlisted in the ranks"), but she dismisses him scornfully. Tonio and Marie leave separately, and the Marquise confesses the truth to Sulpice: Marie is her own illegitimate daughter. In the circumstances, Sulpice promises that Marie will agree to her mother's wishes.
The Duchess and her nephew arrive and Marie enters with Sulpice, who has given her the news that the Marquise is her mother. Marie embraces her and decides she must obey. But at the last minute the soldiers of the Regiment storm in (Chorus: soldiers, then Tonio: Au secours de notre fille / "Our daughter needs our help") and it is revealed that Marie was a canteen girl. Indignantly, the Duchess leaves, but the other guests are impressed when Marie sings of her debt to the soldiers (Aria, Marie: Quand le destin, au milieu de la guerre / "When fate, in the confusion of war, threw me, a baby, into their arms"). The Marquise is deeply moved, admits she is Marie's mother, and gives her consent to Marie and Tonio, amid universal rejoicing. (Final chorus: Salut a la France! / "Hurrah for France! For Happy times!")
Sulpice, La Marquise)
Opera house and orchestra
|1950|| Lina Pagliughi,|
| Mario Rossi,|
RAI Milan Orchestra and Chorus
|CD: Aura Music|
Cat: LRC 1115
|1960|| Anna Moffo,|
| Franco Mannino,|
RAI Milan Orchestra and Chorus
|CD: GALA |
|1967|| Joan Sutherland,|
| Richard Bonynge,|
Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus
|CD: Decca Originals|
Cat: 478 1366
|1970|| Beverly Sills,|
American Opera Society Carnegie Hall
|CD: Opera d'Oro |
|1986|| June Anderson,|
| Bruno Campanella |
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
|2007|| Natalie Dessay,|
Juan Diego Flórez,
Duchess: Dawn French
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Orchestra and Chorus,
Recording of a broadcast on 27 January
|DVD: Virgin Classics |
Juan Diego Flórez,
Janina Baechle ,
Duchess: Montserrat Caballé
| Yves Abel |
Vienna State Opera Chorus and Orchestra
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