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October 22, 2012: Donizetti: La fille du regiment

La fille du régiment (Daughter of the Regiment)
is a French comic opera in three acts, with a libretto by Jules de Saint-Georges and Jean Francois Bayard. It is one of the more important operas by Donizetti composed for the French stage. The work premiered at the Paris Opéra-Comique, on February 11, 1840. Among the most popular of Donizetti's works, it nearly failed at its premiere, due to organized hostility from other composers. Hector Berlioz reviewed the opening night and offered damning criticisms of the score. He called the opera a “pastiche” of earlier works, insinuating that the music had been borrowed from another opera by another composer, Adolphe Adam, and offered the blanket opinion that the entire opera lacked any new ideas whatsoever. Donizetti, he averred, was preparing a total of seven different operas for various theaters around Paris, and all in one year, so he probably had not given much thought to the music of La fille du régiment. and was treating the French public "cavalierly". Donizetti was quick to respond to his colleague's criticisms, and the opera eventually had a successful premiere. It was performed a total of 44 times at the Opéra-Comique in 1840, and was then revived often over the rest of the century. An Italian version was prepared by Donizetti and the librettist Calisto Bassi, and was premiered at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan later that same year. Although the plot is dreadfully simple, the music sparkles and shines, and the characters of the story are sympathetic.
Listen as Juan Diego Florez hits 9 High C's in an aria from La fille du regiment. This aria was one that first brought Pavarotti to attention at Covent Garden. Florez is more than capable as he hits the notes with ease.