As a great fan of Donizetti's music, I very much like La Fille Du Regiment, it is very funny and has wonderful music, Ah Mes Amis being the standout. I do prefer Lucia Di Lammermoor, Don Pasquale and L'Elisir D'Amore for Donizetti, but that's in no way dismissing La Fille Du Regiment as it is a lot of fun. Previously for productions, I'd seen the Covent Garden, Joan Sutherland and Beverly Sills performances, and loved them all. This Met production is just as good as those productions, it sparkles with the comedy and has a great cast.
I did notice that this Met production has a very similar visual style to the Covent Garden production, updating it to the WW1 era. Act 2 is a little too drab for my tastes, having a very gloomy look, but Act 1 was very effective. The High Definition is as good as you would expect from the Met, the picture quality is mostly clear, not too dark or fuzzy and the camera work is very focused. The sound is also good, favouring both the orchestra and the voices.
On a musical level, it is very exciting. I loved the buoyant playing of the orchestra, the men's chorus blend very well and sing and act with character and Marco Armiliato's conducting is both energetic and elegant. The production just flys by, and the comedy, almost like an operetta, is hilarious and brilliantly timed, especially by Dessay. Again it mayn't be for all tastes, there will be those who will love the exaggerated dialogue and additional stage directions, others will find it overkill. I personally found it charming and a riot.
The principals are outstanding. Felicity Palmer is a splendid Marquise, and Alessandro Corbelli is a very characterful Sulpice. Donald Maxwell positively booms as Hortensius, and actress Marion Seldes makes a brief welcome appearance.
Juan Diego Florez is just sensational though, here is a tenor born to sing Tonio. He has great comic timing and he makes a charming, slender appearance on stage, but it's his singing that really delight. There is the athletic and ringing tone, the rapid Bel Canto technique and of course the nine high Cs in Ah Mes Amis, all of which Florez sings effortlessly. Natalie Dessay's Marie is every bit as good. I admit though I miss the times when she was singing high Fs and Gs, and there is a little bit of shrillness at times under pressure. She does have some lovely moments however especially in her quieter moments and in Chacun Le Sait, Chacun Le Dit, and she is a joy to watch on stage. She is incredibly funny to watch, and she's always giving us something to look at even when she's singing, whether with shakes of the head or arm pratfalls.
Overall, a very exciting performance. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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