Small picture of Donizetti




Donizetti's La Fille du régiment

Royal Opera House, London,  January/February 2007 and February/March 2014

  Photographs by Bill Cooper, courtesy of the Royal Opera House, London, who retain the copyright.  


The 2007 production of Donizetti's La fille du régiment was revived earlier this year.  Below are the original 2007 text and a short review by Alan Jackson, the Society's treasurer, of the 2014 revival.  The photographs are from the 2007 production.



The new production of Donizetti's La Fille du régiment at the Royal Opera House, directed by Laurent Pelly, has created an almost unheard of unanimity of praise from the critics. Tim Ashley in The Guardian (,,1989600,00.html ) wrote that it "will probably go down in history as one of the company's great achievements and that neither Natalie Dessay nor Juan Diego Florez in the leading roles, "one suspects, could ever be bettered".  Andrew Clark in the Financial Times also singled out the "scene-stealing character parts for Felicity Palmer, Alessandro Corbelli and Donald Maxwell".  Chantal Thomas's "stylish designs" (Anthony Holden,The Observer),,1989835,00.html mixed the Napoleonic era story with more up to date elements as can be seen from the photographs below. Bruno Campanella's "expert conducting" was singled out for its "great elegance and charm".  The only note of disagreement concerned the decision to have TV star Dawn French play the speaking part of the Duchesse de Crackentorp. The Financial Times reckoned it a "damp squib" although The Times saw it as "the icing on an exceedingly yummy operatic cake". The production continues until February 1, "kill to get a ticket" (The Daily Telegraph)


Alan Jackson has provided the following comments on the 2014 revival:-

The revival of La fille du régiment at Covent Garden was as near perfection as I can imagine (I was at the performance on March 9th). Both musically and dramatically, it was superb. Patrizia Ciofi and Juan Diego Florez returned as Marie and Tonio. Ciofi is physically very close to Natalie Dessay who first sang in this production and she fits wonderfully into it. Originally directed by Laurent Pelly, this revival was faithfully revived by Christian Räth, and it still proves ideally judged. Florez still charms us. Vocally both were outstanding. A couple of notes from Ciofi spread more than I wanted and a high B from Florez in the Act II aria was attacked too strenuously (his high C# a few moments later was spot on). But otherwise all was superb: Ciofi’s control of Marie’s farewell in Act I, at an ambitiously slow speed, and Florez’ famous top Cs remain in the memory.

The subsidiary parts were cast from strength. Pietro Spagnoli as Sulpice and Ewa Podleś as La Marquise is luxury casting – when will Covent Garden engage the latter for a major role? To celebrate Kiri Te Kanawa’s 70th birthday she was allowed an aria from Puccini’s Edgar in this speaking part. It takes a harder heart than mine to quibble, and she proved herself an accomplished comedy actor as indeed did everyone else.

At the performance on March 18th, Frédéric Antoun took over Tonio. His voice is very attractive, warmer than Florez’, and he too has the top notes as well as the grace required, even if he doesn’t quite generate the excitement that Florez does. But he delivers an impressive performance of a difficult part and I look forward to his return. Yves Abel conducted both performances, bringing out both the comedy and the sentiment of this wonderful opera. In my view this opera doesn’t have a weak moment. Melodically it is as rich as anything Donizetti wrote, the orchestration is filled with delightful touches, one really cares for its characters, and the balance between comedy and sincere emotion is judged to perfection. Sung, played and acted like this, it is revealed as a masterpiece.



Tonio - JUAN DIEGO FLOREZ. Credit: Bill Cooper


Marie - NATALIE DESSAY. Credit: Bill Cooper.


La Duchesse de Crackentorp - DAWN FRENCH. La Marquise de Berkenfield - FELICITY PALMER.
Credit: Bill Cooper.


Sulpice Pingot - ALESSANDRO CORBELLI. Marie - NATALIE DESSAY. Credit: Bill Cooper.


Credit: Bill Cooper


Credit: Bill Cooper.


La Marquise de Berkenfield - FELICITY PALMER.Marie - NATALIE DESSAY.
La Duchesse de Crackentorp - DAWN FRENCH. Credit: Bill Cooper.