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.
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
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.
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."
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:
- 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 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.
20th century and beyond
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, with the database, Operabase, reporting that since 1 January 2012 and announced for the near future, 150 performances of 29 productions in 22 cities have occurred or will be staged.
The opera was filmed in a silent film in 1929; a sound film with Anny Ondrain 1933 in German and separately in French; in 1953; and in 1962 with John van Kesteren as Tonio.
- Time: The Napoleonic Wars, early 19th century
- Place: The Swiss Tyrol
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. Skeptical as to why Tonio has returned, 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 Birkenfeld, Sulpice immediately recognizes it from a letter found with Marie as an infant. It is discovered that the Marquise's long-lost niece is actually Marie, who 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 proclaiming that he has enlisted in their ranks: (Aria: Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête / "Ah, my friends, what an exciting day".) In proclaiming 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 her military manners and make her into a lady of fashion, suitable for her 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
RAI Milan Orchestra and Chorus
|CD: Aura Music|
Cat: LRC 1115
RAI Milan Orchestra and Chorus
Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus
|CD: Decca «Originals»|
Cat: 478 1366
American Opera SocietyCarnegie Hall
|CD: Opera d'Oro|
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|
Deon van der Walt,
Munich Radio Orchestra and Bavarian Radio Chorus (de)
Cat: NC 070566-2
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 (de),
Duchess: Montserrat Caballé
|Yves Abel (ca)|
Vienna State Opera Chorus and Orchestra
- ^See the "Notice bibliographique" at the BnF.
- ^Ashbrook 1982, p. 146.
- ^Ashbrook 1982, p. 651, note 45.
- ^Gilbert Duprez, Souvenirs d'un chanteur, 1880, p. 95 (at the Internet Archive).
- ^ abcQuoted and translated by Ashbrook 1982, p. 146.
- ^Ashbrook 1982, p. 651, note 46.
- ^Wolff, S. Un demi-siècle d'opéra-comique (1900–1950). Paris: André Bonne, 1953, pp. 76–77
- ^Ashbrook 1982, p. 568; Warrack & West 1992, p. 243 (recitatives by Donizetti); Loewenberg 1978, column 804, has 30 October 1840 for Milan.
- ^Ashbrook 1982, p. 651, note 50.
- ^Loewenberg 1978, column 805; Warrack & West 1992, p. 243.
- ^Loewenberg 1978, column 805.
- ^Lawrence, 1988, p. 215.
- ^Quoted in Lawrence, 1988, p. 215.
- ^Kobbé 1919, p. 355; Lawrence 1995, p. 226 (Anna Thillon).
- ^Loewenberg 1978, column 805 (both London performances); Warrack & West 1992, p. 243 (Her Majesty's in London with Lind and Lablache).
- ^Kobbé 1919, p. 355.
- ^Beverly Sills website at beverlysillsonline.com
- ^Metropolitan Opera archives database
- ^James Naughtie, "Goodbye Pavarotti: Forget the Pavarotti with Hankies. He was Better Younger", The Times (London), 7 September 2007. Retrieved 22 April 2008
- ^Manuela Hoelterhoff, "Lederhosen and Laughs as Met Tenor Struts His High C", on Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 22 April 2008
- ^"Standing ovation greets Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cameo in DC opera". The Guardian. 14 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- ^Report of performances from 1 January 2012 forward on operabase.com Retrieved 9 May 2014
- ^Die Regimentstochter (1962) on IMDb
- ^ abSee the "Notice de spectacle" at the BnF.
- ^Osborne, p. 273
- ^SynopsisArchived 2014-09-03 at the Wayback Machine. in part from the Metropolitan Opera as well as the booklet accompanying the 1967 Decca recording.
- ^Source for recording information:Recording(s) of La fille du régiment on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
- ^Royal Opera House 2008: review
- ^Royal Opera House 2008, excerpts on YouTube
- Ashbrook, William (1982). Donizetti and His Operas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23526-X
- Kobbé, Gustav. (1919). The Complete Opera Book, first English edition. London & New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. View at the Internet Archive.
- Lawrence, Vera Brodsky (1988). Strong on Music: The New York Music Scene in the Days of George Templeton Strong, 1836–1875. Volume I: Resonances 1836–1850. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-504199-6
- Loewenberg, Alfred (1978). Annals of Opera 1597–1940 (third edition, revised). Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-87471-851-5.
- Osborne, Charles (1994). The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0-931340-71-3
- Warrack, John; West, Ewan (1992). The Oxford Dictionary of Opera. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869164-5.
- Allitt, John Stewart (1991), Donizetti: in the light of Romanticism and the teaching of Johann Simon Mayr, Shaftesbury: Element Books, Ltd (UK); Rockport, MA: Element, Inc.(USA)
- Ashbrook, William and Hibberd, Sarah (2001). "Gaetano Donizetti", pp. 224–247 in The New Penguin Opera Guide, edited by Amanda Holden. New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4.
- Black, John (1982), Donizetti's Operas in Naples, 1822–1848. London: The Donizetti Society.
- Lawrence, Vera Brodsky (1995). Strong on Music: The New York Music Scene in the Days of George Templeton Strong. Volume II. Reverberations, 1850–1856. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-47011-5.
- Melitz, Leo (1921). The Opera Goer's Complete Guide. (Source of synopsis)
- Sadie, Stanley, (Ed.); John Tyrell (Exec. Ed.) (2004), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2nd edition. London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-19-517067-2 (hardcover). ISBN 0-19-517067-9OCLC 419285866 (eBook).
- Weinstock, Herbert, Donizetti and the World of Opera in Italy, Paris, and Vienna in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century, New York: Pantheon Books, 1963. LCCN 63-13703.
Natalie Dessay (French: [na.ta.li də.sɛ]; born Nathalie Dessaix, 19 April 1965, in Lyon) is a French opera singer who had a highly acclaimed career as a coloratura soprano before leaving the opera stage on 15 October 2013. She dropped the silent "h" in her first name in honor of Natalie Wood when she was in grade school and subsequently simplified the spelling of her surname.
In her youth, Dessay had intended to be a ballet dancer and then an actress. She discovered her talent for singing while taking acting classes and shifted her focus to music. Dessay was encouraged to study voice at the Conservatoire de Bordeaux and gained experience as a chorister in Toulouse. At the competition Les Voix Nouvelles, run by France Télécom, she was awarded Second Prize followed by a year's study at Paris Opera's Ecole d'Art Lyrique, where she sang "Elisa" in Mozart's Il re pastore. She entered the International Mozart Competition at the Vienna State Opera, winning First Prize.
She was quickly approached by a number of theatres and subsequently sang "Blondchen", "Madame Herz" (in Der Schauspieldirektor), "Zerbinetta" and "Zaïde" at the Opéra National de Lyon and the Opéra Bastille, as well as "Adele" in Die Fledermaus in Geneva.
In April and May 1992 at the Opéra Bastille, she sang the role of Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann with José van Dam. The Roman Polanski production was not well received, but it began the road to stardom for Dessay. Although she was soon featured in another production of Hoffmann, it would be over ten years before her return to the Paris Opera in the same role. Soon after her Hoffmann run, Dessay joined the Vienna State Opera as Blondchen in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail. In December 1993, she was asked to replace Cheryl Studer in one of the three female roles in a production of Hoffmann at the Vienna State Opera.
She attended a performance where Barbara Bonney had sung Sophie in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier under Carlos Kleiber. Dessay was cast in the same role with another conductor. Blondchen in Die Entführung and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos became her best known and most often played roles.
In October 1994, Dessay made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York in the role of Fiakermilli in Strauss's Arabella, and returned there in September 1997 as Zerbinetta and in February 1998 as Olympia.
At the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Dessay first performed the role of the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Although she was hesitant to perform the role, saying she did not want to play evil characters, director Robert Carsen convinced her that this Queen would be different, almost a sister to Pamina; Dessay agreed to do the role.
During the 2001–2002 season in Vienna, she began to experience vocal difficulties and had to be replaced in almost all of the performances of La sonnambula. Subsequently, she was forced to cancel several other performances, including the French version of Lucia di Lammermoor in Lyon and a Zerbinetta at the Royal Opera House in London. She withdrew from the stage and underwent surgery on one of her vocal cords in July 2002.
In the summer of 2003, Dessay gave her first US recital in Santa Fe. She was so attracted to New Mexico in general and to Santa Fe in particular that the Santa Fe Opera quickly rearranged its schedule to feature her in a new production of La sonnambula during the 2004 season. She returned to Santa Fe in the 2006 season as Pamina in The Magic Flute and gave her first performance in the role of Violetta in La traviata there on 3 July 2009 in a production staged by Laurent Pelly. Her husband, Laurent Naouri, appeared as her lover's father, Giorgio Germont.
Dessay's 2006/2007 season schedule included Lucia di Lammermoor and La sonnambula in Paris, La fille du régiment directed by Laurent Pelly in London and Vienna, and a Manon in Barcelona. She appeared in two new productions during the 2007–08 season at the Met: as Lucia on opening night, and in a reprise of the London production of La fille du régiment. In January 2009 she sang the part of Mélisande in a much acclaimed production of Pelléas et Mélisande by Claude Debussy at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna's second world-class opera house, alongside Laurent Naouri. On 2 March 2009, Dessay sang the title role in La sonnambula at the New York Metropolitan Opera. It was the first new production of the opera at the Met since Joan Sutherland sang the title role in 1963.
In February 2012, Dessay said in an interview with Le Figaro that she would take a sabbatical from opera performance in 2015.
2013 saw the release of Becoming Traviata, a documentary film about Dessay's role as Violetta in a production of La traviata, directed by Jean-François Sivadier, with musical direction by Louis Langrée. The documentary chronicles the development of the production of Verdi's opera for the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France and subsequently staged for her at the Vienna State Opera.
In an interview published in Le Figaro on 4 October 2013, Dessay announced that the final operatic performance of her career would be in the title role of Massenet's Manon at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse on 15 October 2013. She said she intended to continue her performing career as a dramatic actress and chansonnière.
In May 2014 she released a new album, Rio-Paris.
Awards and honors
Dessay is married to the bass-baritoneLaurent Naouri, and she converted to his Jewish faith. The couple have two children.
Solo recitals and collaborations
Sacred and concert works
Soundtrack / spoken
- ^ abc"Natalie Dessay et Laurent Naouri ont trouvé leur voie". Paris Match (in French). October 31, 2015. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
- ^Conrad, Peter (16 December 2007). "A wicked witch who made us laugh and cry". The Observer. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
- ^Riding, Alan (23 March 2003). "Saying Goodbye to the Magic Flutes". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
- ^Phillip Huscher, The Santa Fe Opera: An American Pioneer, Santa Fe Opera, 2006, p. 148.
- ^Midgette, Anne (19 August 2004). "A Change in Santa Fe Opera in More Ways Than One". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2007.
- ^Santa Fe Opera's web site listing the 2009 season
- ^"Met to Add Seven New Productions for 2007–8" by Daniel J. Wakin, The New York Times, (27 February 2007)
- ^Dessay, Natalie (Soprano), Metropolitan Opera Database. Accessed 6 October 2013.
- ^"Natalie Dessay: 'Je veux change de monde!'" by Thierry Hillériteau, Le Figaro (15 February 2012) (in French)
- ^"Natalie Dessay, le chant du départ" by Thierry Hillériteau, Le Figaro, 4 October 2013. (in French) Quote: "Comme je le dis à mes amis, ce n'est pas moi qui arrête l'opéra, c'est l'opéra qui m'arrête." (As I tell my friends, it is not I who is quitting opera; opera is quitting me.)
- ^"La soprano Natalie Dessay se confie sur... sa conversion au judaïsme, les hommes à barbe et les Bee Gees!" at purepeople.com (15 December 2009), citing the magazine Têtu(in French)