A fun-filled Daughter of the Regiment, Donizetti

Grange Park Opera.


The Daughter of the Regiment is an operatic vehicle for some fine singing and musicianship, and fun. Anything that tries to do any more with it are just missing the point.

Fortunately, John Doyle and Nikki Woollaston, co-directors of Grange Park Opera’s staging of Donizetti’s 1840 piece of fun and frolics don’t mess with this basic idea. While the pre-interval set was exceptionally drab (as some audience members murmured as they headed for their picnics) it didn’t do any great damage. We are seemingly at a stockade built to defend the Marquise of Berkenfield’s travelling group from those pesky Frenchies. There was also a little too much shifting ammunition and rifle boxes around for little apparent gain, apart from where people could sit. But, again, no big deal.

This was remedied for the second half of the show where the stockade opened in panels to reveal the inside of the Marquise of Berkenfield’s palace i.e. a big mirror, a chandelier, and some fancy chairs. The opera doesn’t really need much else as the humour is all based on the jollity of Donizetti’s score, the singing and acting of the cast, and our surrender to a bit of charming nonsense.

Harriet Thorpe

The story is about an abandoned girl Marie who has been raised as the daughter of the French regiment. She wants to be one of the boys and apart from that the boys all want to look after her. While invading Bavaria Marie meets a local lad in glorious lederhosen and they fall in love. The lad Tonio joins the regiment to be with her. But, oh drat, she turns out to be the long-lost daughter of the snobbish Marquise who wants to marry her off to the son of the even more snobbish Duchess of Crakenthorp. Yes, the titles are also a good source of humour, particularly when all the titled ladies are introduced at the Marquise’s wedding contract signing party.

Anna Steiger

The rest is just as daft and easy, with plenty more chances for humour and over the top acting from the cast including the cheeky regimental Sergeant Sulpice.

Anna Steiger is delightful as the Marquise of Berkenfield and only outplayed in pompous ridiculousness by Harriet Thorpe as the Duchess of Crakenthorp.

Enrico Marabelli and Julia Sitkovetsky

One advantage of constricted sets is that the singers can do little except stand still and hurl out their big voices. Our love birds are well taken by the soprano Julia Sitkovetsky with a cheeky stage presence, her singing lesson was hilarious, and more importantly her  controlled  and coloured coloratura was thrilling. Her Tonio was the Maltese tenor Nico Darmanin, and he jumps around like a mountain goat and gets a well-deserved round of applause for climbing those nine top Cs in Ah! mes amis .  

As that silly and lovable Sergeant Sulpice, the Italian baritone Enrico Marabelli, was delicious although his French accent was a little suspect.    Also worth noting was young Redmond Sanders as Corporal.

There was also well-deserved applause for the fine conducting by conductor Claire Levacher and the impressive Gascoigne Orchestra.

To July 6, grangeparkopera.co.uk

Images by Marc Brenner


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