Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: La Fille du Régiment 

Transmission of Saturday, December 24, 12 Noon

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Diana Damrau as the vivandière Marie in La Fille du Régiment
© Beth Bergman 2011
The 2011–12 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by
Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®,
with generous long-term support from 
The Annenberg Foundation and 
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media, 
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
La Fille du Régiment  
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Text by Jules Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean François Beyard 
THE CAST     (in order of vocal appearance) 
Hortensius     bass-bar., JAMES COURTNEY
Marquise de Berkenfield
    mezzo, ANN MURRAY
Peasant     tenor, MARK PERSING
Sgt. Sulpice     bass, MAURIZIO MURARO
Marie     soprano, NINO MACHAIDZE
Tonio     tenor,  LAWRENCE BROWNLEE
Corporal     bass, ROGER ANDREWS
Duchesse de Krakenthorp
    soprano, KIRI TE KANAWA
Conducted by YVES ABEL
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Production: Laurent Pelly
Set designer: Chantal Thomas
Costume designer: Laurent Pelly
Lighting designer: Joël Adam
Choreographer: Laura Scozzi
Associate director and dialogue:
    Agathe Mélinande
Stage director: Christian Räth
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Steven Eldredge, 
    Denise Massé, Gareth Morrell, 
    John Beeson, Marie-France Lefebvre
Assistant stage directors: Gregory Keller,
    Tomer Zvulun
Stage band conductor: Jeffrey Goldberg
Prompter: Marie-France Lefebvre
Production a gift of 
    The Annenberg Foundation
THE SCENES                              Timings (ET)
ACT I     The Tyrolean Mountains     12:00–1:29
ACT II     The Berkenfield castle         2:00–3:00

Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
    William Berger
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
    Elena Park

For more information on the broadcasts,
please visit

Send quiz questions to:
    Metropolitan Opera Quiz
    Metropolitan Opera
    30 Lincoln Center
    New York, NY 10023
    or e-mail

This performance is also being broadcast
    live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on
    SiriusXM channel 74. 

La Fille du Régiment is a coproduction of
    the Metropolitan Opera; Royal Opera
    House, Covent Garden, London;
    and Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna


ACT I. In the mountains of the Swiss Tyrol about 1815, during the Napoleonic Wars, a skirmish has broken out, forcing the Marquise de Berkenfield to stop on her journey home to her castle. Suddenly, a sergeant of the French army, Sulpice, enters, followed by Marie, "daughter," or mascot, of his regiment, the Twenty-first, which adopted her as an orphaned infant. She declares that military life exhilarates her. When Sulpice questions her about a young man with whom she has been seen, she replies he is a Tyrolean who saved her life some time before. Troops of the Twenty-first arrive with a prisoner - this same Tonio, who says he was looking for Marie. When she intercedes on his behalf, the soldiers befriend him. Sulpice still holds him prisoner, however, and when Tonio is ordered to follow the soldiers, he gives them the slip and returns to tell Marie he loves her. The Marquise de Berkenfield asks Sulpice to help her return to her castle. When he hears the name Berkenfield, he is reminded of a certain Captain Robert, whom the Marquise admits she once knew: her sister, married to Captain Robert, bore a daughter and left the child in the Marquise's care, but the child was lost, and the Marquise believes she has died. Sulpice replies she is alive and well in the care of his regiment. Marie returns and is introduced to her newfound aunt, who wants her to leave the regiment and come to the castle for a proper upbringing. Marie at first balks but eventually agrees to go. When she bids the regiment farewell, she learns that Tonio has enlisted. 

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Damrau's Marie is parted from her sweetheart, Tonio, played by Juan Diego Flórez
© Beatriz Schiller 2011

ACT II. In her salon, the Marquise confers with Sulpice, whom she has summoned to help her persuade Marie to accept marriage with a German nobleman. When Marie comes in, the Marquise tries to start the girl's singing lesson, accompanying her at the piano, but Marie slips in phrases of the regimental song, joined by Sulpice. Though shocked, the Marquise finds the tune so catchy that she joins them. Regaining her composure, she asks Marie to act like a lady, since they are about to receive important guests. Sulpice leaves with the Marquise. Marie's reveries are interrupted by the sound of soldiers marching in the distance. As the troops file into the reception hall, Marie, Tonio and Sulpice voice their happiness at being reunited. The Marquise appears, demanding to know what Tonio is doing in her niece's company. She declares her niece engaged to another man and dismisses Tonio. Alone with Sulpice, she confesses that Marie is her daughter, born out of wedlock. She is afraid of social ruin if her secret is discovered, but an advantageous marriage will give Marie a title, permitting the Marquise to leave everything to her without admitting parentage. Hortensius announces the arrival of the guests, headed by the intended groom's mother, the Duchesse de Krakenthorp. Meanwhile, Sulpice has told Marie that the Marquise is really her mother, and when the girl re-turns, she embraces the Marquise, declaring she is ready to do her bidding. The soldiers of the Twenty-first Regiment storm in to rescue their "daughter." The noble guests are horrified to learn that Marie was a canteen girl, but she still offers to go through with the arranged marriage if the Marquise wants it. The Marquise will not allow such a sacrifice: Marie may marry the man of her choice.  

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Tonio and the soldiers arrive at the Berkenfield castle to rescue Marie
© Johan Elbers 2011


In La Fille du Régiment, Donizetti managed to inject his characteristic lyrical effusion with such an abundance of Gallic wit and charm that it became a patriotic French opera. The world premiere at the Opéra Comique on February 11, 1840, featured Juliette-Euphrosyne Bourgeois as Marie opposite the Tonio of Mécène Marié de l'Isle. The opening-night audience gave the work a cool reception. After a few weeks, however, it achieved a notable success; by 1914 Fille had amassed 1,000 performances at the Opéra Comique.

The Metropolitan Opera's first performance of La Fille du Régiment, on January 6, 1902, was given as the first half of a double bill: Donizetti's bel canto comedy was followed by the stark tragedy of Cavalleria Rusticana. The following season, the company variously coupled Fille with Pagliacci and Ethel Smyth's Der Wald. The Met did not present Fille on its own until a new production (in Italian) was mounted in 1917 for German diva Frieda Hempel. Fille's next new Met production, in 1940, was a vehicle for French-born coloratura Lily Pons, who interpolated an aria from Donizetti's Lucie de Lammermoor into Act III. In 1972, the Met presented Sandro Sequi's production, purchased from Covent Garden, with Richard Bonynge conducting Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti. The Met's present Laurent Pelly staging, previously hailed in London and Vienna, arrived in New York on April 21, 2008. 

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Kiri Te Kanawa as the Duchesse de
Krakenthorp in Laurent Pelly's
production of La Fille du Régimentat the Metropolitan Opera

© Beth Bergman 2011


The standard reference work is William Ashbrook's Donizetti and His Operas ,   now reprinted in a high-priced paperback edition by Cambridge. Also valuable (and less expensive) is The New Grove Masters of Italian Opera (Norton). 

On CD, the clear choice remains Bonynge's 1968 Decca set, with Sutherland and Pavarotti its virtuoso stars. Juan Diego Flórez hits Tonio's high Cs on his Una Furtiva Lagrima (Decca).

On DVD, Flórez woos Natalie Dessay's gamine Marie in the Covent Garden telecast of Laurent Pelly's 2007 staging, a co-production with the Met that returned to New York in 2010 (Virgin). Flórez is paired with Patrizia Ciofi's lovely Marie in a Genoa performance of Emilio Sagi's charming staging, which updates the action to the era of World War II (Decca). Sutherland is in hearty good form in an Australian Opera performance taped in 1986 (Kultur). Beverly Sills's zany Marie was caught in performance at Wolf Trap in 1974 (VAI). spacer 

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