After a hiatus of 110 years, La fille du régiment returns to the OPERA

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In a production staged by Csaba Polgár incorporating spoken dialogues by András Péter Kovács, La fille du régiment returns to the repertoire of the Hungarian State Opera on 14 January 2022. The cast at the Erkel Theatre features outstanding Hungarian soloists Zita Szemere, Gergely Boncsér, Mária Farkasréti / Atala Schöck, and András Palerdi under the baton of Fabrizio Maria Carminati.

Set during the Napoleonic Wars, La fille du régiment was one of Gaetano Donizetti’s most successful operas during its own era, and singing the title role was the dream of every coloratura soprano throughout the entire 19th century. In 1838, tired of his constant struggles with the Italian censors, Donizetti moved to Paris. There, the great Italian bel canto composer wrote his first French-language comic opera, modelling it much more on the unique features of the French opéra comique style and its composers.

In this opera, the core is Marie and the story of her upbringing. Today, Donizetti’s portrayal of the “carefree” life of the soldier no longer has meaning. However, it is still interesting how a girl raised by soldiers lives in a different world, an aristocratic civilian milieu and a budding romantic relationship. Donizetti's masterpiece was first shown in Hungary at the National Theatre of Pest in 1844, where it ran for 33 performances. The Hungarian Royal Opera (today's Hungarian State Opera) also staged it later, where, after 54 performances it said farewell for 114 years in 1908.

According to director Csaba Polgár, "looking at the piece today, this situation resembles that of a child of divorced parents, where both the mother and the father try to assert their validity, losing the child’s will in the process. For me, that is what raises the most important issues regarding the piece for which I am looking for the answer: What is the level of care or concern that is stifling and detrimental? Is the boy who signs up for the army and then returns the same man who the girl fell in love with? Is he truly her way out?" The revival production features sets and costumes by Lili Izsák, lights by Tamás Bányai, and choreography by Adrienn Vetési. The sung parts performed in Hungarian are connected by spoken dialogues in Hungarian, adapted by renowned comedian András Péter Kovács.

The title role is performed by Zita Szemere, her partners on stage are Gergely Boncsér (Tonio), András Palerdi (Sulpice), Mária Farkasréti / Atala Schöck (Marquise Berkenfield) along with Bence Pataki / Attila Dobák, Gergely Irlanda, Gergely Biri, Tünde Szalontay and Zsófia Alberti. Returning to the OPERA to conduct the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus (chorus director: Gábor Csiki) is internationally renowned Fabrizio Maria Carminati, an expert in Donizetti's works.

Rehearsal photo by János Kummer
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