PERFORMER: Juan Diego Flórez, Patrizia Ciofi, Nicola Ullivieri, Riccardo Frizza, Emilio Sagi;Orchestra e coro del Teatro Carlo Felicedi Genova/Riccardo Frizza
Donizetti’s light comedy comes up fresh as paint in this recent production from Genoa that updates the action from Napoleonic times to the Second World War, with Marie now the pet female member of a troop of American soldiers engaged in liberating France from the Germans.
In fact, the Nazis have departed the scene, which from a comic point of view is perhaps just as well, leaving the snobbish Marquise de Berkenfield to claim her long-lost niece in the smartest of New Look fashions. It’s all stylishly managed in Julio Galán’s designs, and Emilio Sagi’s production ensures a high rate of well-defined activity by everyone from the stars to the chorus.
Stars don’t come much starrier than Juan Diego Flórez, who can sing rings round the role of Tonio, including the aria with the nine top Cs, of which he ultimately supplies 18 by giving an immediate encore.
But he’s well matched by Patrizia Ciofi’s spirited Marie, and by the alert and amiable Sergeant Sulpice of Nicola Ulivieri, who even manages some military bearing. The comedy is maintained at a crisp and sophisticated level and sentiment is also supplied at all the right moments.
Both chorus and orchestra are excellent, while the talented young Riccardo Frizza conducts the score with wit and authority, some of it on display in the rehearsal sequences featured on a separate film about the production that makes up the second DVD. In fact, it’s hard to imagine the piece better done.