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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Metropolitan Opera Preview: La Fille du Régiment

Tenor Javier Camarena sails the (nine consecutive) high C's.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Iron Lady: Pretty Yende is Marie in La Fille du Regiment.
Photo by Marty Sohl © 2019 The Metropolitan Opera.
It's a winter warmer! Pretty Yende and Javier Cammarena are the leads in this lovely bel canto comedy by Donizetti.

What is La Fille du Régiment?
A featherweight French comedy, this was one of the finest and most successful products of the Italian Donizetti's Paris period. with a real heart and enough vocal firepower that the story doesn't really matter too much.

What's the story?
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 tenors Juan Diego Flórez and Lawrence Brownlee. Here, Javier Cammerena accepts the challenge.

What's the music like?
The title character is a bel canto heroine with astonishingly difficult, high-lying music to sing. But 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 tenors Juan Diego Flórez and Lawrence Brownlee. Here, Javier Cammerena accepts the challenge.

Who's in it?
In addition to Pretty Yende and Mr. Cammarena, this production stars Stephanie Blythe as the meddling Marquise of Berkenfield and comic buffo basses Alessandro Corbelli and Mairizio Muraro splitting the role of Sulpice. In her Metropolitan Opera debut, actress Kathleen Turner, (Body Heat, Romancing the Stone and the voice of Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?)

How's the production?
This serviceable staging by Laurent Pelly puts the military hijinks of this opera in the years before the First World War, when being in the military was still a profession that might nit actually get you killed.

When does La Fille du Régiment open?
The opera returns for just five performances starting February 7, 2019.

Is there a Live in HD broadcast planned?
Not this season.

Where do I get tickets?
Tickets are available through MetOpera.Org or by calling the box office at (212) 362-6000. You can save some money on service fees by going to the box office in person at the Met itself, located at 30 Lincoln Center Plaza.

Box office hours are: Monday to Saturday: 10am-8pm, Sunday: 12pm-6pm.

Which recordings do you recommend?

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 remains 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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