Tomboy, unable to transform into snooty duchess, finds true love anyway.
Marie, the adopted daughter of the 21st Regiment of the French army, has fallen in love with a young man who has saved her life. This young man just so happens to be from an enemy nation. Fortunately, the regiment backs down when they hear of how the young man saved their lovely Marie. The two love each other and plan to wed, but a wrench is thrown into their plans, when news about Marie’s birth family arises and she must leave the regiment. Marie, Tonio, and all the soldiers of the regiment are distraught and none seem able to deal with the change. Tonio resolves to rescue Marie with the aid of the other soldiers, will he be successful?
"The Daughter of the Regiment"
Opera in 2 acts
Sung in Italian
About 2 hours 10 min + interval
The Napoleonic Wars, early 19th century, The Swiss Tyrol
War is raging in the Tyrols and the Marquise of Berkenfield, who is traveling in the area, is alarmed to the point of needing smelling salts to be administered by her faithful steward, Hortensius. While a chorus of villagers express their fear, the Marquise does the same: Pour une femme de mon nom / "For a lady of my family, what a time, alas, is war-time". As the French can be seen to be moving away, all express their relief. Suddenly, and provoking the fear of the remaining women who scatter, Sergeant Sulpice of the Twenty-First Regiment of the French army [in the Italian version it is the Eleventh] arrives and assures everyone that the regiment will restore order.
Marie, the vivandière (canteen girl) of the Regiment, enters, and Sulpice is happy to see her: (duet: Sulpice and Marie: Mais, qui vient? Tiens, Marie, notre fille / "But who is this? Well, well, if it isn't our daughter Marie"). Then, as he questions her about a young man she has been seen with, she identifies him as Tonio, a Tyrolean [in the Italian version: Swiss]. At that moment, Tonio is brought in as a prisoner, because he has been seen prowling around the camp. Marie saves him from the soldiers, who demand that he must die, by explaining that he had saved her life when she nearly fell while mountain-climbing. All toast Tonio, who pledges allegiance to France, and Marie is encouraged to sing the regimental song: (aria: Chacun le sait, chacun le dit / "Everyone knows it, everyone says it"). Sulpice leads the soldiers off, taking Tonio with them, but he runs back to join her. She quickly tells him that he must gain the approval of her "fathers": the soldiers of the Regiment, who found her on the battlefield as an abandoned baby, and adopted her. He proclaims his love for her (aria, then love duet with Marie: Depuis l'instant où, dans mes bras / "Ever since that moment when you fell and / I caught you, all trembling in my arms..."), and then the couple express their love for each other.
At that point, Sulpice returns, surprising the young couple, who leave. The Marquise arrives with Hortensius, initially afraid of the soldier, but is calmed by him. The Marquise explains that they are trying to return to her castle and asks for an escort. When hearing the name Berkenfield, Sulpice immediately recognizes it from a letter found with Marie as an infant. It is discovered that Marie is actually the Marquise's long-lost niece. Marie returns and is surprised to be introduced to her aunt. The Marquise commands that Marie accompany her and that she will be taught to be a proper lady. Marie bids farewell to her beloved regiment just as Tonio enters announcing that he has enlisted in their ranks: (aria: Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête / "Ah, my friends, what an exciting day"). When he proclaims his love for Marie, the soldiers are horrified, but agree to his pleading for her hand. However, they tell him that she is about to leave with her aunt: (Marie, aria: Il faut partir / "I must leave you!"). In a choral finale in which all join, she leaves with the Marquise and Tonio is enraged.
Marie has been living in the Marquise's castle for several months. In a conversation with Sulpice, the Marquise describes how she has sought to modify most of Marie's military manners and make her into a lady of fashion, suitable to be married to her nephew, the Duke of Crakenthorp. Although reluctant, Marie has agreed and Sulpice is asked to encourage her. Marie enters and is asked to play the piano, but appears to prefer more martial music when encouraged by Sulpice and sings the regimental song. The Marquise sits down at the piano and attempts to work through the piece with Marie who becomes more and more distracted and, along with Sulpice, takes up the regimental song.
Marie is left alone: (aria: Par le rang et par l'opulence / "They have tried in vain to dazzle me"). As she is almost reconciled to her fate, she hears martial music and is joyously happy (cabaletta: Oh! transport! oh! douce ivresse / "Oh bliss! oh ectasy!"), and the Regiment arrives. With it is Tonio, now an officer. The soldiers express their joy at seeing Marie, and Marie, Tonio and Sulpice are joyfully reunited (trio, Marie, Sulpice, Tonio: Tous les trois réunis / "We three are reunited"). Tonio mentions he has just learned a secret, via his uncle the burgermeister, that he cannot reveal.
The Marquise enters, horrified to see soldiers. Tonio asks for Marie's hand, explaining that he risked his life for her (aria, Tonio: Pour me rapprocher de Marie, je m'enrôlai, pauvre soldat / "In order to woo Marie, I enlisted in the ranks"), but she dismisses him scornfully. Tonio reveals that he knows that the Marquise never had a niece. She orders him to leave and Marie to return to her chambers; after they leave, the Marquise confesses the truth to Sulpice: Marie is her own illegitimate daughter. In the circumstances, Sulpice promises that Marie will agree to her mother's wishes.
The Duchess of Crakenthorp, her son the groom-to-be, and the wedding entourage arrive at the Marquise's castle. Marie enters with Sulpice, who has given her the news that the Marquise is her mother. Marie embraces her and decides she must obey. But at the last minute the soldiers of the Regiment storm in (chorus: soldiers, then Tonio: Au secours de notre fille / "Our daughter needs our help") and reveal that Marie was a canteen girl. The wedding guests are offended by that fact, but are then impressed when Marie sings of her debt to the soldiers (aria, Marie: Quand le destin, au milieu de la guerre / "When fate, in the confusion of war, threw me, a baby, into their arms"). The Marquise is deeply moved, admits she is Marie's mother, and gives her consent to Marie and Tonio, amid universal rejoicing (final chorus: Salut à la France! / "Hurrah for France! For happy times!").
Marie – Soprano (lyric coloratura)
A young woman raised by a regiment of French Grenadiers
Tonyo – Tenor (leggiero)
a young Tyrolean peasant in love with Marie
Sergeant Sulpice – Bass (lyric)
A sergeant in the French Grenadiers
The Marquise of Berkenfield – Mezzo-soprano/Contralto (lyric)
Hortensius – Bass
A corporal - Bass
A peasant - Tenor
The Duchess of Crakentorp - Spoken
A notary - Spoken
Place of birth: Bergamo, Italy
Place of death: Bergamo, Italy
Gaetano Donizetti was an Italian composer of the bel canto style. During the span of his life he wrote about 70 operas. His two most popular operas today are L’elisir d’amore and Lucia di Lammermoor.
Donizetti didn’t come from a musical family, but started taking music lessons at an early age. In 1822, after his ninth opera, the impresario of Teatro di San Carlo in Naples offered him a residency. For the next 22 years he wrote 51 operas that were performed at the theatre.
Donizetti married Virginia Vasselli in 1828. She gave birth to three children but none of them survived. In 1837 Virgina died, and within a year of her death, both of Donizetti’s parents also died. He never completely recovered from his grief. At the end of his life he lived at an institution for the mentally ill and just before his death he was moved back to Bergamo where he was born.
Although being mainly an opera composer, Donizetti also wrote symphonies, songs, sacred music, string quartets and other chamber music. Together with Rossini and Bellini he shaped the bel canto style during the first part of the 19th century. After Bellini’s death, Donizetti was the major Italian composer until Verdi.
“My heyday is over, and another must take my place. The world wants something new. Others have ceded their places to us and we must cede ours to still others... I am more than happy to give mine to people of talent like Verdi. ”
Donizetti often staged his own operas.
Most prominent operas
The libretto was written by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard.
Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges was a French playwright who was born and died in Paris. He was one of the most prolific librettists of the 19th century, often working in collaboration with others.
Jean-François Alfred Bayard was a French playwright and librettist. He was the nephew of fellow playwright Eugène Scribe.
2d1, 2d1, 2, 2 - 4, 2, 3, 0
timp, perc, pf, strings
The work was first performed in French in 1840 by the Paris Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse.
Aria - Chacun le sait (Marie)
Aria – Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête! (Tonyo)
Trio - Tous les trois réunis (Marie, Tonyo, Sulpice)