La Fille du regiment – Donizetti – Royal Opera House
Eat your heart out Florez and Dessay. A new pair of principals have hit London and star in Laurent Pelly’s 12 year old production of La Fille du regiment. The mishmash production is very much a ‘Dad’s Army’ fun billing. The comedy is always at the forefront and is infectious and the two new principals bring the house down. In fact there appears no singing weak link in a most enjoyable evening.
The Marie of the French soprano Sabine Devieilhe is a perfect match for her Tonio of the Mexican tenor Javier Camarena. She has a beautiful light high coloratura and dazzled in her upper register and high notes, but the rounded performance was centred on her portrayal of the role as a young French girl in her teenage years with all the emotions that go with that. It was a superb portrayal and almost matched by her Tonio of the tenor, Javier Camarena, who has been singing this role around the world. He doesn’t have the aristocratic authority of Kraus, nor the sweetness of tone of Florez, but he has power, focus and clarity at the top of his voice, almost unmatched elsewhere today. He is the ‘go to tenor’ for this role and it shows. The incredible applause of the audience at the 9 High C’s of ‘Ah, mes amis’ which were pinged first time with sublime clarity - and indeed even more so in his encore of this aria – was more than well deserved.
Other parts all added to the fun of the evening, particularly the Hortensius of Donald Maxwell, the La Marquise of Enkelejda Shkoza, the Sulpice of Pietro Spagnoli and the Duchesse of Miranda Richardson, together with the Corporal of Bryan Secombe, the Peasant of Luke Price and the Notary of the funny Jean-Pierre Blanchard.
Everything was well controlled by the Conductor Evelino Pido and the Chorus, once settled, were on striking form.
What fun, as the audience left at the end with huge smiles on their faces.