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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Metropolitan Opera Preview: La Fille du régiment

Ed. Note: This is the opera preview. Visit here for a full review of the Dec. 19 2011 performance of La Fille du régiment.
Tenor Lawrence Brownlee goes sailing the nine high C's.
Dame Kiri te Kanawa as the Duchess of Krakenthorp.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2010 The Metropolitan Opera.

Donizetti's ultra-light comedy features some of his most scintillating writing for the voice. This is the story of a beautiful orphan tomboy, loved and protected by a regiment of Napoleon's troops. She falls in love with a soldier from another unit. The hitch: he can't marry her without the consent of the entire regiment. It could be argued that this libretto is the blueprint for the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

La fille is best known for Tonio's Act I aria "Ah, mes amis", which features a staggering nine high C's in a row, a feat that brought Luciano Pavarotti to worldwide fame and has also helped the career of bel canto tenor Juan Diego Flórez. Here, Lawrence Brownlee will attempt the feat.

He will sing opposite Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze. Marie is the role that launched the international career of this fast-rising star at La Scala, and remains a cornerstone of her repertory. These performances also feature Dame Kiri te Kanawa in the comic, autumnal role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp.

Recording Recommendation:
Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden cond. Richard Bonynge
Marie: Joan Sutherland
Tonio: Luciano Pavarotti
The second teaming (ever) of Sutherland and Pavarotti makes this 1967 recording the best reading of the bel canto classic. As always, Richard Bonynge conducts his wife. Excellent if you want to hear the early Pavarotti, and understand what all the fuss was about. And yes, the young, virile Pavarotti hits the nine high C's straight out of the park.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats