Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Donizetti La Fille du regiment

Marie Hye-Youn Lee
Tonio Luciano Botelho
Marquise de Birkenfeld Sarah Pring
Sulpice Graeme Broadbent
Hortensius Stefan Holmström
La Duchesse de Crakentorp Nuala Willis

Conductor Robert Dean
Director William Kerley
Designer Tom Rogers

Opera Holland Park, London June 4 2008

Gaetano Donizetti's military comedy needs a light touch, supplied by Kerley & Rogers for Opera Holland Park's tent, improved this year with extra side panels which help to contain the sound, excellent in our seats midway back. It was premiered on a balmy night (c.p. the weather which had conspired against the season's disastrous Trovatore opener) and will be remembered for a freshly thought out assumption of Joan Sutherland's famous role.

Marie Hye-Youn Lee's qawky and feisty Marie (her movements showing that she'd grown up lacking feminine models) captured everyone's hearts as well as Luciano Botelho's Tonio (he'll be covering Florez at Covent Garden next season). He deserved to win her and did so at a moment in the second act when the violins duetted charmingly with Holland Park's peacocks in fine voice.

Inevitably the operetta-ish second act was a decided come down, and probably is bound to be so. The singing lesson was not really funny and the 'piano' needs taming*. Marie's supporting cast was just a little underplayed and Nuala Willis thankfully didn't emulate the over-the-top crowd-pulling Dawn French as La Duchesse de Crakentorp at Covent Garden.

The adaptable props were clever, simulating the Dolomites and giving a little verticality to the not easy OHP stage, stimulating thereby William Kerley's inventiveness. The soldiers of OHP Chorus were splendid, as was Robert Dean's conducting of the City of London Sinfonia.

Recommended strongly to alfresco opera fans. We enjoyed it all more than with ROH's starry cast at Covent Garden last year.

Musical Pointers will continue to cover the season, sometimes at later performances when the productions will have settled.

Peter Grahame Woolf

* but q.v. Stephen Crowe in omh (perhaps he hasn't seen it so many times a we have...)