October 28, 2015

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 111: Joan Sutherland sings excerpts from Donizetti ~ La fille du régiment

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I started the Vinyl LP series because I have a collection of over 20,000 vinyl record albums I am selling; each blog entry is about an album from my collection. The 101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes series is an extension of that collection. Inquire for information here.   

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La fille du régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) is an opéra comique in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti, set to a French libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard. It was first performed on 11 February 1840 by the Paris Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse.    

The Metropolitan Opera gave the first performances with Marcella Sembrich, and Charles Gilibert (Sulpice) during the 1902/03 season. It was then followed by performances at the Manhattan Opera House in 1909 with Luisa Tetrazzini, John McCormack, and Charles Gilibert, and again with Frieda Hempel and Antonio Scotti in the same roles at the Met on 17 December 1917.     

It was revived at the Royal Opera, London in 1966 for Joan Sutherland. On 13 February 1970, in concert at Carnegie Hall, Beverly Sills sang the first performance in New York since Lily Pons performed it at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1943.            

The most popular aria from the opera, Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête!, is for the tenor; a genuine tenor's tour de force.    




reel-to-reel tape box
photo by Styrous®

The opening night was:

"a barely averted disaster. Apparently the lead tenor was frequently off pitch. The noted French tenor Gilbert Duprez, who was present, later observed in his Souvenirs d'un chanteur: "Donizetti often swore to me how his self-esteem as a composer had suffered in Paris. He was never treated there according to his merits. I myself saw the unsuccess, almost the collapse, of La fille du régiment."

It received a highly negative review from the French critic and composer Hector Berlioz (Journal des débats, 16 February 1840), who claimed it could not be taken seriously by either the public or its composer.    

reel-to-reel tape box back
photo by Styrous®



The New York Metropolitan Opera has described La fille du régiment as:  

"Madcap physical comedy and impeccable coloratura come together for the portrayal of the feisty tomboy (read "butch") raised by a regiment of French soldiers. Juan Diego Flórez is the young Swiss villager who conquers her heart—and a slew of high Cs." (link to complete synopsis below)   

This opera is famous for the aria Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête! (sometimes referred to as Pour mon âme), which has been called the "Mount Everest" for tenors. It features nine high Cs and comes comparatively early in the opera, giving the singer less time to warm up his voice. Luciano Pavarotti's stardom is reckoned from a performance alongside Joan Sutherland at the Met, when he "leapt over the 'Becher's Brook' of the string of high Cs with an aplomb that left everyone gasping."       

Juan Diego Flórez performed "Ah! mes amis" at La Scala, and then, on popular demand, repeated it, "breaking a 74-year embargo on encores at the legendary Milanese opera house." He repeated this feat on 21 April 2008, the opening night of the 2007 London production at the Met, with Natalie Dessay as Marie. This Met production was broadcast in high definition video to movie theaters worldwide on 26 April 2008 (see link below).         


reel-to-reel tape box back details 
detail photos by Styrous®



Dame Joan Alston Sutherland OMACDBE (November 7, 1926 – October 10, 2010) was an Australian dramatic coloratura soprano noted for her contribution to the renaissance of the bel canto repertoire from the late 1950s through to the 1980s.     

She was one of the most remarkable female opera singers of the 20th century, she was dubbed La Stupenda by a La Fenice audience in 1960 after a performance of the title role in Handel's Alcina. She possessed a voice of beauty and power, combining extraordinary agility, accurate intonation, "supremely" pinpoint staccatos, a splendid trill and a tremendous upper register, although music critics often complained about the imprecision of her diction. Her friend Luciano Pavarotti once called Sutherland the "Voice of the Century"; Montserrat Caballé described the Australian's voice as being like "heaven". Sutherland was the first Australian to win a Grammy Award, for Best Classical Performance – Vocal Soloist (with or without orchestra) in 1962.      



reel-to-reel tape box spine
photo by Styrous®

reel-to-reel tape box w/libretto
photo by Styrous®

The libretto

photo by Styrous®

libretto interior
photo by Styrous®

Believe it or not, for a change, I don't really have a favorite aria or any one thing from this opera; if anything, Au bruit de la guerre (At the sound of war) would do it for me.  

reel-to-reel tape 
photo by Styrous®

reel-to-reel tape label detail 
detail photo by Styrous®


Net links:     
La fille du régiment           
             ~ roles       
             ~ Synopsis       
Joan Sutherland ~ Sings Faust          
Joan Sutherland ~ Sings Don Giovanni           

Links to music on YouTube:     
Juan Diego Florez ~ Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête!     
Natalie Dessay & Alessandro Corbelli ~ Au bruit de la guerre    
Joan Sutherland - Lesson Scene      
Joan Sutherland - Entrance    
Joan Sutherland - Trio        
Joan Sutherland - Chacun le sait    
Joan Sutherland - Salut A La France              
LA FILLE DU REGIMENT (complete opera)                 

The Joan Sutherland ~ La fille du régiment reel-to-reel tape is for sale on eBay      

Styrous® ~ Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

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