Donizetti: La fille du régiment

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Donizetti
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Donizetti
WORKS: La fille du régiment
PERFORMER: Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Flórez, Felicity Palmer, Alessandro Corbelli, Donald Maxwell, Dawn French; Chorus & Orchestra, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Bruno Campanella; dir. Laurent Pelly (London, 2007)
CATALOGUE NO: 519 0029 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)

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Laurent Pelly’s production of Donizetti’s opéra comique was one of the highlights of the Royal Opera’s 2006-7 season, and viewing this well-produced DVD of the show it’s perfectly obvious why. The piece itself is a charmer, Donizetti dressing up its slight plot with a delectable score, graceful and invariably neatly composed. Pelly’s staging is spirited and intelligent, only teetering over into crowd‑pleasing tomfoolery on a couple of occasions. The Covent Garden Chorus plays the peasant women, soldiers and aristocrats with unimpeachable expertise. The central casting would be impossible to improve on in our day. Natalie Dessay’s skinny tomboy of a Marie combines a 110 per cent commitment to the physicality of her acting with a coloratura facility that is beyond criticism. As Tonio, Juan Diego Flórez’s physical grace is again matched by unbeatable vocal standards. Also entering fully into the comic business are Alessandro Corbelli’s seasoned campaigner of a Sulpice; Felicity Palmer’s vulnerable gorgon of a Marquise; and Donald Maxwell’s savvy Hortensius, the Marquise’s major-domo. Though she’s clearly been bussed in to improve the TV ratings, Dawn French makes a perfectly decent job of the snobbish Duchess de Crackentorp and, given the circumstances, her role is not too grossly padded out. Conductor Bruno Campanella delivers a well-paced account of the score. Nothing in the way of DVD extras, but visual standards and sound quality are high. George Hall