La fille du régiment (DVD)
Sara Blanch, Adriana Bignagni Lesca, Paolo Bordogna, John Osborn , Cristina Bugatty; Chorus of Accademia Teatro alla Scala; Orchestra Donizetti Opera/Michele Spotti; dir. Luis Ernesto Doñas (Bergamo, 2021)
Dynamic DVD: 37943; Blu-ray: 57943 144 mins
The Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo is currently on a roll, releasing DVD after DVD of productions staged over the last couple of challenging years. Though a cover image depicting chorus members in masks initially seemed off-putting, this turned out to be the best release from the company I have watched so far.
It’s a Fille du régiment with a Cuban feel from director Luis Ernesto Doñas, in a co-production with the Teatro Lirico Nacional de Cuba. Cheerful sets inspired by the work of Pop-Art designer Raúl Martinez combine with the cherry-red and sunshine-yellow garb of the troops to create a riot of colour. Why the French troops have wandered so far west is a mystery, but no matter: the emphasis here is on sheer exuberance.
The performers are evidently having a blast, from the orchestral players bopping their way through the overture under the baton of Michele Spotti to the charming, energetic double-act of soprano Sara Blanch (Marie) and baritone Paolo Bordogna (Sulpice). It’s a joyous moment when tenor John Osborn – all top Cs present and correct – breaks the fourth wall to laugh and beam at the audience as they bellow for two reprises of the showstopping ‘Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête!’ (only the first is granted).
Over in the aristocratic camp, where everyone wears monochrome stars and stripes, Adriana Bignagni Lesca owns the room as a haughty Marquise de Berkenfield with manly low notes. With superb singing across the board, winning characterisation and witty direction, there is much to enjoy here indeed.