Donizetti: La fille du régiment

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Donizetti
LABELS: Nightingale
WORKS: La fille du régiment
PERFORMER: Edita Gruberová, Deon van der Walt, Rosa Laghezza; Bavarian Radio Chorus, Munich Radio Orchestra/Marcello Panni
CATALOGUE NO: NC 070566-2 DDD
A delightful example of authentic French opéra comique, Donizetti’s high-spirited piece contains a number of arias which, given reasonably good performances, never fail to delight audiences. In Act I, those for the hoydenish heroine, Marie, include a perky regimental song, ‘Chacun le sait’ (recycled from an earlier Donizetti opera) and a touching romance, ‘Il faut partir’, and in Act II a lively patriotic cabaletta, ‘Salut à la France’. The tenor hero, Tonio, sings a gloriously ebullient aria in the course of which he is called upon to emit eight high Cs. (Like most tenors, Deon van der Walt in this recording can’t resist adding a ninth one at the end.)

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For many years the role of Marie virtually belonged to Joan Sutherland. Edita Gruberová is not quite in the same league. Her agile lyric coloratura is pleasant in quality, but lacks the sheer physical excitement of the Sutherland sound, and she occasionally sings a little below the note. Not quite tomboyish enough for the role, Gruberová is at her best in its quieter moments. Deon van der Walt brings an engaging vocal personality and a secure technique to the role of Tonio, and the smaller roles are all capably handled. Marcello Panni conducts a lively performance, but the Sutherland recording on Decca is still the one to have. Charles Osborne