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The Sunday Opera: Donizetti's "La Fille du Regiment" from Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts

The two sides of Marie in "La Fille du Regiment" by Gaetano Donizetti. On the left is Marie as the Vivandière she loves being, and on the right the titled young woman of her newly discovered birthright.
The two sides of Marie in "La Fille du Regiment" by Gaetano Donizetti. On the left is Marie as the Vivandière she loves being, and on the right the titled young woman of her newly discovered birthright.

We continue our visit to Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts for this week’s Sunday Opera (10/1 3:00 p.m.) and Gaetano’s delightful “La Fille du Regiment.”

Marie (Sabina Puertolas), the adopted daughter of the 21st Regiment of the French army lead by her main “father,” Sgt. Sulpice (Giovanni Romeo), has fallen in love with Tonio (Shi Yijie), a young villager who saved her life, but he happens to be from an enemy nation. The regiment is hostile to Tonio at first, but they accept him when they hear how he saved Marie and even enlisted in the French army so that he can court Marie.

Marie and Tonio plan to wed, but a wrench is thrown into those plans, when news about Marie’s birth family arises, and she must leave the regiment to live with the Marquise of Berkenfield (Doris Lamprecht) and learn how to become a lady with the help of Berkenfield’s comic butler, Hortensius (Wang Hexiang), which she hates.

Tonio resolves to rescue Marie with the aid of the other soldiers, and through some comic adventures and a near marriage to the nephew of the Duchess of Crackenthorp (Daniela Mazzuccato), Marie and Tonio find their happy ending.

The NCPA Orchestra and Chorus are conducted by Matteo Beltrami.

We’ll continue our visit with the music of Donizetti after the opera when host Michael Kownacky will feature four more of Donizetti’s works beginning with his first opera, completed when he was 19 but never staged in his life. “Il Pigmalione” features Antonio Siragusa as Pygmalion and Aya Wakizono as the statue Galatea who comes to life.

We’ll complete our afternoon visit with a string quartet, a sinfonia, and dance excerpts from another of Donizetti’s operas, “La Favorite.”

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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