[Met Performance] CID:228510
New Production
La Fille du Régiment {42} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/17/1972.

(Debuts: Sandro Sequi, Anna Anni, Marcel Escoffier

Metropolitan Opera House
February 17, 1972
Benefit sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild
for the production funds
New Production


Marie.......................Joan Sutherland
Tonio.......................Luciano Pavarotti
Marquise of Berkenfield.....Regina Resnik
Sergeant Sulpice............Fernando Corena
Hortentius..................Andrea Velis
Duchesse of Krakentorp......Ljuba Welitsch
Peasant.....................Charles Kuestner
Corporal....................Andrij Dobriansky
Dancing Master..............Harry Jones

Conductor...................Richard Bonynge

Director....................Sandro Sequi [Debut]
Set designer................Anna Anni [Debut]
Costume designer............Marcel Escoffier [Debut]

La Fille du Régiment received nineteen performances this season.

Production acquisition a gift of the Gramma Fisher Foundation, Marshalltown, Iowa

[This production was purchased from London's Royal Opera.]

Review of Harold C. Schonberg in The New York Times

New 'Fille' Marked by Excitement and Fun

The show was constantly being stopped Thursday night at the Metropolitan Opera, where a new production of Donizetti's "La Fille du Régiment" was staged. Joan Sutherland stopped the show at her entrance and several times thereafter. Luciano Pavarotti stopped the show with his first aria and, later, with the "Quel desin" aria, the one with the nine - high C's. Ljuba Welitsch stopped everything dead with she came on for her bit, nonsinging part as the Duchess of Crackentorp. Everybody remembered the great Salome of 20 years ago.

It was that kind of evening, a fun evening with some awfully exciting singing. "La Fille du Régiment" never was considered on the intellectual plane of "Critique of Pure Reason," but it is agreeable full - a sweet, harmless, amusing little opera that gives the prima donna a chance to take over the stage as comedienne.

The production of the once-popular opera (it has not been staged hereabouts since the days of Lily Pons) was as simple and agreeable as the music. Act I brought an Alpine backdrop, trees, a chalet and lots of stunning costumes. Act II was a big salon, with more stunning costumes. Nobody was out to aggrandize the basic simplicity of the opera, and the sets were no more sumptuous than were necessary.

The staging went in a bit for slapstick, with a corps of Mack Sennett military types that with only the least bit of urging would break into dance routines right out of the "Chocolate Soldier." At least nothing was vulgar; and if the burlesque was overstressed a bit, that is the way of opera these days.

Anyway, nobody paid much mind to the background. All eyes were on Joan Sutherland. She had sung the role of Marie about five years ago in London, and the critics there went wild over Sutherland the comedienne.

From some of those reports, one got the idea that Miss Sutherland would camp it up. Perhaps she did so in London. But not at this performance. She was often genuinely funny, and seemed to be having a good time, but there was none of the self-parody that one had feared. She showed that she was a good mimic, she moved with more grace than she has done in any role at the Metropolitan (she even did a few elegant dance steps in the second act) and she had a few deadpan routines that brought down the house.

And she sang beautifully. Her voice was under fine control. As always, she threw out many notes in alt, but those D's and E flats, impressive as they may be, are not the real glory of the Sutherland voice. The rich sound, coupled to extraordinary flexibility, is the real glory. Miss Sutherland spun out arch after arch of pure tone. What is more, it was expressive tone. There has not been more beautiful or expressive singing in any opera house than in Miss Sutherland's second-act romance, "Il faut partir." This was bel-canto at its best - secure in technique, melting in tone, delicately shaded, long-breathed.

In the last two years Luciano Pavarotti has come up fast, and today he is the reigning tenor in the lyric side of the Italian repertory. God has kissed his vocal cords, as he has said. This is a voice on the Gigli order, though used with more taste and musicianship. He sings the B's and C's as though he is not afraid of them, and the voice has an absolutely unbroken scale.

For a man of his bulk, he moved surprisingly well through the role of Tonio. And with such a ring in his voice, such an easy and focused projection, he worked beautifully with Miss Sutherland. The first act duet, "De cet aveu si tendre," showed two virtuosos, two gorgeously matched voices, making music together rather than trying to outdo each other. Pavarotti's last-act romance, too, was as stylish an example of bel-canto as one is going to encounter from any tenor today.

The real comedienne of the evening was that wonderful veteran, Regina Resnik. She even played the piano in the lesson scene, with better rhythm than the conductor. Miss Resnik's acting was comedy on a high scale, and she even was able to upstage Fernando Corena. Not many singers can boast of so epochal a feat. Mr. Corena was perfectly cast as Sulpice, and Andrea Velis had some effective bits as Hortensius. Richard Bonynge conducted.

The Metropolitan Opera will of course have a hit on its hands with this production of "La Fille du Régiment." With Sutherland and Pavarotti at the top of their voices it could not have been otherwise.

Photograph by Louis Melançon of Ljuba Welitsch as the Duchesse of Krakentorp,
Joan Sutherland As Marie, and Luciano Pavarotti as Tonio.

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