[Met Performance] CID:130310
New production
La Fille du Régiment {27} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 12/28/1940., Broadcast

(Debut: Hortense Kessler

Metropolitan Opera House
December 28, 1940 Matinee Broadcast

New production


Marie......................Lily Pons
Tonio......................Raoul Jobin
Marquise of Berkenfield....Irra Petina
Sergeant Sulpice...........Salvatore Baccaloni
Hortentius.................Louis D'Angelo
Duchesse of Krakentorp.....Maria Savage
Peasant....................Lodovico Oliviero
Corporal...................Wilfred Engelman
Little Duke................Unknown
Dance......................Rita Holzer
Dance......................Hortense Kessler [Debut]
Dance......................Josef Levinoff
Dance......................Alexis Kosloff

Conductor..................Gennaro Papi

Director...................Herbert Graf
Set designer...............Jonel Jorgulesco
Costume designer...........Ladislas Czettel
Choreographer..............Boris Romanoff

Lily Pons interpolated an aria from the French version of Lucia di Lammermoor during Act III.
See Sanborn article below.

Pons' costumes were designed by Valentina.

La Fille du Régiment received seven performances this season.

Review of Virgil Thomson in the New York Herald:

The singing was good. Miss Pons is not the greatest coloratura soprano one has ever heard; her voice is a little too brilliant. But her personality is so easy and engaging that one is always glad to see her on a stage, and she is far from unpleasant to hear. Mr. Baccaloni is always a pleasure to hear and watch. Irra Petina, an excellent singing comedienne, is likewise an ornament to any cast. The three of them yesterday gave a style to the performance that was far above the level of what easily might have been just a routine revival of a not awfully exciting work. Raoul Jobin, though far from possessing the distinction of the other three, has a richly resonant tenor voice and yesterday looked not too badly in his mountaineer clothes.

The scenery was cute; and it looked expensive, just as operatic scenery should. The costumes were all right too, only there is nothing more tiring to the eye in a theater tham military uniforms, no matter how bright they may be in color.

[The opera] has gaiety and melodic eloquence; it is good Donizetti all right. Only it isn't the best Donizetti. It lacks occasions for the grander flights of feeling and most especially for those magnificently theatrical and expressive concerted numbers that he could write as no other composer ever did, excepting Mozart.

And so, though the piece was a worthy one and yesterday's cast a distinguished one, though the mounting was in every respect adequate and at all times agreeable, still the entertainment never quite got off the ground. The orchestra sounded fine as usual. The pleasant memory of the occasion, however, remains Miss Pons.

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

The Metropolitan Opera Association added another conspicuous success to its repertory yesterday afternoon with a revival, in a new version and with a brilliant cast, of Donizetti's comedy, "The Daughter of the Regiment." The opera was done in the French of the original Paris production, with interpolations of sung recitative from the version that Donizetti prepared for Italy.

The original two acts became three, with two additional scenes added to those asked for by Donizetti's libretto. The piece was given a picture-book setting, parodying military motives, with a special curtain depicting the Vivandiere and her soldiery. There were some additional dances and a whole procession of good-looking vivandieres who, in the manner of musical comedy, followed Marie's lead in pantomime. The spirit of the performance leaned to parody, and sometimes burlesque, of operatic comedy of another period. Undoubtedly this was not the "Fille du Regiment" as the composer planned it, but there was much fun, with some brilliant achievements in the interpretation.

Vivacity in Acting

Miss Pons had a part which she could act as well as sing with exceptional virtuosity. Act she did, in a very smart and fetching costume, with native vivacity and charm and pleasant nonsense. She sang and she peeled potatoes, so professionally as to make it evident that Mr. Kostelanetz need not go to bed supperless, though the cook depart. She was less expert, and not less amusing, in her general gestures toward the currying of the wooden horses. In passages of sentiment and of the lovely melodic line that Mr. Donizetti could provide so very well when he chose, she expressed feeling, and everything was done with distinction.

The part of the Vivandiere is one of tremendous difficulty. It is a light opera role, but perhaps the most taxing of all the coloratura roles that this singer takes at the Metropolitan. She sang it, barring some occasional and usually slight deviations from pitch, with a skill and esprit that bespoke her constant improvement in vocalism.

All this was done with such apparent spontaneity that no one would have suspected what a feat it was. And when Marie sang of her fidelity to her regiment and her detestation of the shams of high life, it was with gallantry. This mood reached its logical climax as she waved the French colors at the end, to the tune of the Marseillaise, and brought the audience up standing.

Baccaloni "Masterly Foil"

To all this Mr. Baccaloni was a capital, and masterly, foil. True artist that he is, he gave the utmost of himself to his part and at the same time respected most carefully every one else's rights in singing and in ensemble. He could not do as great things with the part of Sulpice as he did with that of Don Pasquale, for there is not as much in what is almost a pure buffo role or in music of the opera of yesterday.

But what he made of the role, whether in burlesque vein or in the most adroit strokes of comedy and characterization, was a lesson in technique, invention and a mastery of fine strokes as well as broad ones. His scene when the Marquise read him the letter that revealed her as the mother of Marie was something to remember for its drollery and its rough sympathy. When he marched to the "rataplan," or took part in the singing lessons, or in the trio of the last act, "Tous les trois unis," he moved with spontaneity from mood to mood and portrayal to portrayal that adapted itself perfectly to every emergency. A buffo who can sing as well as act, a sure musician, an accomplished comedian, he is indeed an ornament of the operatic stage of his period.

Mr. Jobin is far better fitted for the role of the peasant lover Tonio than for the part he took in Pelleas on an earlier occasion. He is thoroughly in the frame of the character. His voice is well suited to Donizetti's music, he feels it and his conviction is shown in his song. In this role, also, much in point of range and style is asked of the singer.

On these three singers rests the principal burden of the opera. Miss Patina was again diverting, as she is in other character parts, as the Marquise of Berkenfield. But she should not overdo funny business, or make excessive grimaces. Mr. d'Angelo took his small part with customary adequacy. Maria Savage, for years head of the women's division of the Metropolitan chorus, was the grandiloquent Duchesse de Crakentorp, and made much of her moment.

The chorus again justified its reputation. We do not particularly care for the musical comedy antics of the vivandičres, which would better befit some other Broadway locality, and are not really in the frame of this opera. But they did little harm. Mr. Papi did not come off as well with the orchestra yesterday as he did at the "Don Pasquale" performance, for there were moments, as in the overture, when the orchestra seemed in two halves in its attacks. The delightful prelude to the second act, in the Tyrolean manner, and of nostalgic mood, which is one of the best moments of the whole diverting score, was much better delivered.

A very large audience was greatly pleased.

Variation for Lucia In French Revision
Donizetti Changed First Act for the Paris Stage

By Pitts Sanborn in the New York World-Telegram

Whether or not Donizetti's opera comique The Daughter of the Regiment is likely to repeat at the Metropolitan the success won there by the same composer's opera buffa Don Pasquale last Saturday may be proved today. In any event the cast offers in the role of Sergeant Sulpice the eminent Italian buffo bass who scored such a palpable hit as Don Pasquale, Salvatore Baccaloni, and in the role of Marie, the vivandiere, no less popular a soprano than Lily Pons. There is an interpolation in the score for Mme. Pons, as there has been reportedly in this opera for other impersonators of Marie. She introduces part of a scena sung by Lucy Ashton in the first act of the French version of Lucia di Lammermoor.

Americans witnessing a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor in France or Belgium have been astonished to find decided differences in the first act from the Italian version they have been familiar with. One of the most conspicuous is the absence of Lucy's aria "Regnava nel silenzio" and the appearance in its place of an elaborate solo in several movements, beginning with the words "Oh! fontaine! o source pure!" The last section of this scena, whose opening words are "Viens, toi par qui mon coeur rayonne," has been chosen for interpolation by Mme. Pons and supplied with a showy cadenza by Frank La Forge. The explanation of the divergences is that when Donizetti went to Paris in 1839 to see about a production there for his unproduced opera Poliuto, he prepared a revised version of Lucia di Lammermoor expressly for the French stage. Mme. Pons has had, of course, a long line of distinguished predecessors as Marie, from Jenny Lind and Henriette Sontag to Adelina Patti, Marcella Sembrich, Luisa Tetrazinni and Frieda Hempel.

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