Though war doesn’t immediately come to mind as fertile ground for levity, there have been many stage and film comedies with a military setting: Mr. Roberts, Operation Petticoat, Dr. Strangelove, MASH, and Stripes, to name but a few. This is definitely not the case in opera, where war is usually presented as a grim backdrop to drama and hilarity does not ensue.
Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment (La Fille du Régiment) is that rare and lively exception to this rule, a musical soufflé about a rambunctious tomboy who is adopted by a group of soldiers. Set in the waning days of World War II in San Diego Opera’s production, it has everything you want in a comic opera – farcical plot, star-crossed young lovers, larger-than-life characters, scheming relatives, rousing numbers for the chorus, a plethora of vocal gymnastics (including the famous nine high Cs for the tenor) and, of course, a happy if improbable ending.
In this new edition of San Diego OperaTalk!, premiering tonight (Oct. 23) at 8pm (and online now), Nick Reveles explains it all to you in his inimitable style, including the opera’s origins and the historic role of women in the military. Who knew war could be so much fun?
Watch Daughter of the Regiment – San Diego OperaTalk! with Nick Reveles tonight at 8pm or online now.