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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best production of this opera that I have ever seen!
I have never seen or heard a better production of this magnificent opera. The stage production is the most imaginative I have ever seen anywhere; the set is better than most I have ever seen outside of the Metropolitan Opera House and the way in which it is presented is hilarious; Dawn French's cameo as the Duchess Crackentorp, non-singing, almost makes one forget that...
Published on 23 Nov 2008 by A. Norman

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0 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stupid not funny
Somewhere between Rossini, Offenbach and Gilbert and Sulivan.Donizetti lacks the musicality and humour of the other three. A lot of his music is predictable as one usually guess where it is going several bars ahead. It was suitable for the lesser trained ear of the general audience of the ninteenth century. The Royal Opera House tried its best by using the best available...
Published 21 months ago by Arthur Wyatt


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best production of this opera that I have ever seen!, 23 Nov 2008
By 
A. Norman - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [DVD] [2008] [NTSC] (DVD)
I have never seen or heard a better production of this magnificent opera. The stage production is the most imaginative I have ever seen anywhere; the set is better than most I have ever seen outside of the Metropolitan Opera House and the way in which it is presented is hilarious; Dawn French's cameo as the Duchess Crackentorp, non-singing, almost makes one forget that this is actually a Donizetti bel canto opera and not a stand-up performance. All of this is before the singing. I have on C.D. the 1968 recording of this opera, starring Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland and I can tell you that all of the singers and chorus are better in this than in that (except, of course, for Juan Diego Florez, who can't compare with Pavarotti but is amazing all the same). Natalie Dessay's singing is magnificent and enthusiastic; she is also an excellent actress, which is not too common in opera singers. All of the supporting cast are outstanding and in any other production would play leading roles; they only don't because the stars are out of this world.
All in all this is one production which should be favoured above all others. Highly recommended.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A few additional comments, 2 Aug 2009
By 
martin jones (Shropshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [DVD] [2008] [NTSC] (DVD)
Other reviewers have - rightly - heaped praise on this DVD and there is no point in repeating all of that. I would like, however, to add a few additional comments.

Firstly, the composer. Most people who have got this far on the Amazon site will know pretty much what they are looking for, but for the benefit of those who have stumbled across this recording by chance, Donizetti was a composer who died in 1848, age 50. During his lifetime he composed no less than 75 operas, a fair number of which are still performed more or less regularly, not to mention more than a dozen string quartets and other chamber music, and orchestral and and choral works.

In my old copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Music the composer is said to have "thoroughly understood the human voice and had an ear for a good tune." Such a patronising put-down is perhaps not surprising, as quite a lot of music lovers and musicians have a poor opinion of the bel canto style. Thankfully, these days there are not as many of them as there were fifty years ago.

Given such a prodigious output (always viewed with suspicion by some; but hey, what about Mozart and Schubert?) it is perhaps not surprising that Donizetti is sometimes accused of being formulaic. To be sure, those who have heard some of his other operas will feel on familiar territory with his orchestral writing, but then it is the voices which are the focus of attention, not the orchestra. And those who think that beautiful, sometimes florid, melodic lines and deep emotion cannot go together should listen to Tonio and Marie in the second act when they think their hopes of happiness will be dashed. Each has a most beautiful aria to sing but, as well as ravishing the ear, they express a poignancy no less than that which a Verdi or a Puccini might achieve in similar circumstances.

As for the plot: well, it is straightforward enough and anyone who hasn't worked out in the first fifteen minutes or so what is going to happen can't have been paying attention. But it's OK.

The sets are fine: they are not naturalistic but they don't distract from the action. As for the costumes - well, they are very broadly first world war-ish. But, when first seen, Tonio (Juan Diego Florez) looks as if he has just stepped out of a 1930s musical comedy. The props are equally varied, including some very late twentieth items. And Tonio's transport in the second act has to be seen to be believed! But this is quite deliberate and the crashing anachronisms - there are one or two in the spoken dialogue as well - enhance rather than detract.

I first saw this production when it was broadcast on BBC4 a couple of years ago. It had an introduction from Dawn French which is not, sadly, on this DVD. In it she observed that it is (or was) twenty years since the last time that Covent Garden put on "La Fille" and this is at least in part due to the difficulty of getting singers who can cope with the extreme technical demands of the two leading roles. As others have said, though, the parts hold no fears for Florez and Dessay who acquit themselves magnificently. Tonio's famous showstopper "Ah, mes amis" notoriously contains nine top Cs, and in this, as elsewhere, Florez is superb. And as Dawn French said in the intro to which I referred, he also looks like an operatic hero (or, in her words, "drop-dead gorgeous"!). Dessay is equally good vocally in her demanding part whilst, at the same time, as others have commented, throwing herself about all over the stage. All of the other parts, and the chorus, are acted and sung to an equally high standard.

Criticisms? The only ones which I have are very minor indeed. This is a film of a live performance and as such the cast are acting (and the acting is good) for the audience rather than the camera. Consequently the gestures and facial expressions (especially those of Felicity Palmer) sometimes seem a bit exaggerated on the small screen. And towards the end of the second act Florez momentarily forgets that he is supposed to be speaking in French, not Italian. But that's about it.

My final word, though, must be about Natalie Dessay. Although she was over 40 when this performance was recorded she is utterly convincing as a feisty young girl of less than half that age. If ever it could be said that an artist was born to play a particular part, it could be said that Natalie must have been born to play Marie.

Amazon have recently raised the price of this DVD but even so it is worth every single penny. Order it NOW!!!
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All-star cast, 5-star entertainment, 16 May 2008
This review is from: Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [DVD] [2008] [NTSC] (DVD)
With the stellar cast of Dessay, Florez, Corbelli, and Palmer, one sits down to watch this DVD with high expectations. And one would not be disappointed.

Laurent Pelly's production is highly entertaining stuff. There is always something to occupy the eye, and though it may strike some people as 'overly busy', one can't help being amused at the sheer inventiveness of some of the stage business. He obviously demands a lot from his singers, especially the amazing Dessay, who has to be the most fearless artist performing today. As a comedienne she is her most physical, punctuating every vocal turn and flourish with a corresponding bodily movement. On first viewing, this kind of hyper-physical comedy is enchanting; however, I have to say it wears a bit thin on subsequent viewings, and I find myself longing for a comic portrayal that is more human and based more on character. Vocally, her coloratura is as bravura as ever, but too much pressure and spreading just above the upper passaggio in louder moments makes one fear a bit for her technical health.

Florez, in this particular performance, shows a tendency toward sharpness; but the elegant line, sensitive phrasing, and unerring style are all there.

Corbelli and Palmer are marvelous, as expected. It's gratifying to have on film a performance by Corbelli in a language other than his native Italian--he has excellent command of French, as well as German and English, which not many in the business are aware of. Dawn French, in the non-singing role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp (sp?) elicits guffaws of "Olympic" proportions (that's an inside joke; you have to watch the DVD to get it).

I'm sorry I can't compare this production with the other Florez "Fille" (the one with Ciofi), but I'll leave that to someone who has seen both. I can, however, heartily recommend this one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reply to Mr Wyatt (somebody must): silly, perhaps, not stupid, 14 Jan 2013
This review is from: Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [DVD] [2008] [NTSC] (DVD)
La Fille du Regiment (ROH production 2007: Dessay, Florez, Corbelli, Palmer, /Campanella (DVD)
I first heard this work with Sutherland and Pavarotti over 40 years ago: a ponderous, laboured performance - and thought that if I never saw the work again it would be too soon. I was in India in 2007, but I saw the Dessay/Florez performances in 2010 (well, you can't stay away from them, can you?) - and had a Damascene conversion.
I think that Dessay sang better in 2010 than on this 2007 DVD, where her top notes can sound uncomfortable and at times the voice sounds a little unfocused (false memory? - probably not: US reviewers suggest that vocally she was better at the Met in 2008 than on this DVD). Nevertheless, from her entrance carrying tons of newly washed underwear which she proceeds to iron, fold and pile, while singing/chatting with Sulpice (delightfully sung and played by an avuncular Corbelli), she is wonderful. The duet with Tonio, declaring their love while peeling potatoes almost defines "feelgood". His "Ah mes amis" is stunning and her "Il faut partir", bidding farewell to each of the soldiers individually, is deeply affecting. Chaplinesque is a perfect description of Dessay: he was much more than a "laugh-out-loud" comic actor, and so is she.
The Act 2 arias for both Marie and Tonio are gorgeously done: Tonio's declaration of his love for Marie to the Marquise moves everybody on stage to tears. Does the production go over the top? A matter of personal taste, but - apart from the opening of Act 2 and the Duchesse of Krakenthorp (am I in a minority of one about Dawn French?) - no, it stays the right side of caricature. Pelly as producer isn't patronising: an excellent performance of this, OK silly (like most romcoms), but (unlike most romcoms) delightful work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of 'Daughters'!, 18 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [DVD] [2008] [NTSC] (DVD)
This is a brilliantly funny production of the Royal Opera House's 'Daughter of the Regiment', with Natalie Dessay in the title-role. Her opening scene as a demon ironer of the regiment's smalls is a wonderful piece of acting and direction. Her wicked eyes and frenetic boyish movements (after all, as Marie, she was brought up by a whole regiment of French soldiers!)are perfect. I even replay this aria regularly, just to marvel at her acting - and ironing technique! All this and her superb voice!

Juan Diego Florez is also perfect as her lover, Tonio, who is dashing and funny at the same time. He tackles those fiendish and 'impossible' high notes in his famous aria on gaining Marie's hand with seeming ease, much to the applause of not only the audience but also the conductor, Bruno Campanella, who is also, always, on top form.

All the singers are in excellent voice and act their parts with verve. Dawn French, in the non-singing role as La Duchesse de Crackentorp, even dominates the stage at one point by just standing looking very proud.

This must be a definitive 'Daughter'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but my personal preference is for the rival set with Ciofi and Florez, 23 Nov 2011
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [DVD] [2008] [NTSC] (DVD)
This production has been generally well liked but there may be some aspects about the production that may worry some potential purchasers.

Perhaps the most controversial feature was the decision to cast Dawn French in the non-singing role of the Duchess of Crakentorp. Whatever one may feel towards such a role, the holder of such a social position would surely display far more subtlety than that shown by Dawn French who seems to go out of her way to portray the Duchess as a totally boorish character.

Dessay chooses to bring a particularly energetic approach to the role which she sings very accurately. This will not come as a great surprise to those who have seen her in other roles. Whether this approach to Marie appeals will be largely a matter of taste and there will be as many who find this funny as those who find it too hyperactive to be effective. Ciofi, on a rival set in my opinion, and I stress that it is a personal opinion, is far subtler in both her acting and range of vocal skill/expression. Florez takes the role of Tonio in both sets and is in equally fine voice on both occasions.

The recording of this issue is very fine. The imaging is crisp with involving camera work and the sound is presented in good quality surround and stereo formats. Providing that the Duchess of Crakentorp and Dessay's very energetic approach to the role of Marie are not areas of doubt, this issue will give pleasure and satisfaction.

However it is worth mentioning that there is choice available in an equally good recording. The rival set with Ciofi was reviewed in magazines such as The Gramophone as definitive when it was first issued only a few years ago. It is a great shame that it now seems to have been by-passed by this slightly more recent version. My personal preference is to buy the Ciofi set which I personally find to be more musical and therefore more enjoyable while being just as well recorded.

At the end it is all a matter of taste and either issue will appeal according to personal preference rather than more measurable criteria. My own personal view is that this is worth 4 stars and the Ciofi set is worth 5.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully staged and sung and so funny, 19 May 2008
By 
Malkyp (Northants, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [DVD] [2008] [NTSC] (DVD)
I'm afraid that there's not much to add to the previous review except to say that I agree with every word.

I am not qualified to judge anyone's singing but would just like to say that I enjoyed every moment and watch it over and over again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Entertainment from another winning ROH Production., 10 Jan 2012
By 
Trev-R (Boston UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [DVD] [2008] [NTSC] (DVD)
This is an exciting and fresh production of La Fille du régiment by the Royal Opera House. Bringing Dawn French in to play La Duchesse de Crackentorp was a stroke of genius as she is made for the role. The staging, direction and costumes are all first rate.

One of the reasons I bought this version was because I had heard Florez sing Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fete on his CD The Tenor and found he had a much lighter touch than Pavarotti in the 1968 recording with Joan Sutherland. To some extent Pavarotti's fame was built on the way he effortlessly dealt with the 9 high 'C's, however Florez also manages to accomplish this feat with apparent ease, and of course Florez is now famous for breaking a 74 year embargo on encores at La Scala when by audience demand he re-sang "Ah! mes amis" in the 2008 production. Florez also has one major advantage over Pavarotti and that is the way he looks. He is totally believable in the role both visually and in terms of his acting skills.

Natalie Dessay sings the role of Marie with great enthusiasm and skill. Famous for her superb coloratura and acting ability she brings both to this role. In my opinion she is preferable to Sutherland. While her career has included many roles from Verdi to Mozart she is now probably best know for comedy roles which she has made her own. She is the complete 'Marie' and I am sure everyone will love her performance.

The rest of the cast are equally as good from Felicity Palmer and Bryan Secombe to the chorus. Everything just fits nicely into place to make this a most enjoyable opera.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modified Rapture, 20 Nov 2011
By 
John Davison - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [DVD] [2008] [NTSC] (DVD)
The praise heaped on this production's direction, choreography, casting and singing can be found in most Amazon reviews and all over the internet.

My one reservation, oddly enough, was the comedy.

I read once how a great director of comedy would give the actors full rein, encouraging them to greater and greater heights of lunacy and bad behaviour, and then, at the dress rehearsal, he would rein things in and turn down the gas just a little. Mixed metaphors, sorry.

This did not happen here. Of the natural comic actors in this production, only Andrea Corbelli, in my opinion, got it pitch perfect in every scene. Natalie Dessay and Felicity Palmer both needed bringing down a notch, and Dawn French needed bringing down several. Good comedy is not about hitting your audience over the head with a sledgehammer.

But I have a friend who is a real opera buff who loved it and could find no fault, so there you go.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnifique, 9 Nov 2011
This review is from: Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [DVD] [2008] [NTSC] (DVD)
I was lucky enough to go and see this production when it returned last year to the Royal Opera House having been captivated by the DVD . It was a wonderful night at Covent Garden and Dessay was in good form though I suspect it may be the last time she will sing the role .

The DVD recreates the atmosphere of this terrific production marvellously. Dessay is funny, girlish , touching and tomboyish all in one and sings delightfully. Florez sings with subtlety and the top Cs come off splendidly and Palmer and Maxwell are a scream .

A wonderful production and I wholeheartedly recommend it - it will greatly cheer up a dank November evening. The only shame is that there is no CD version, as thrillingly sung as the Sutherland and Pavarotti version is, this performance shows up their limited acting skills terribly and is just much much funnier.
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