Very good, I thought
Joseph Hart | Visalia, CA United States | 05/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is sung in English, as you must know by now. I preferred it that way. For some reason, it made me conscious of tunes I simply had never noticed before. It was a relief to be free to watch the performers instead of having to keep my eyes fixed on the subtitles. The lyics (is "lyrics" low-brow, common? Ha!) were good I thought, no Larry Hart, but the rhymes were true and they got the story across. One thing, though, the writers might learn the difference between "lay" and "lie." Sills was perfectly uncouth, and when she let fly with a few "hells" and "damns" (god bless her!) she endeared herself to me for forever, as though she wasn't already. Her voice was its usual technical miracle with its beautiful sound. The soldiers were all smiles, the cast did a wonderful job. This is far from my favorite Donizetti opera (though I find something to like in all of them), but it was good fun, funny and beautifully sung. The sound and picture quality (once I put my glasses on) were both fine. One last note. (I'm urethral, there always is one.) Several reviewers have said Sills was over the hill when she sang this. I didn't think so at all. And one reviewer objected to the conductor's head being visible a few times. It was. So what?"
Beverly Sills In An Enjoyable Opera Sung In English
Joseph Hart | 08/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD was taken from the rare Wolf Trap performances in New York City. This was a time when televised broadcasts of operas was new and the Met live performances were still to come. Beverly Sills was unfortunatel unable to appear in televised performances during the 80's, as her contemporaries Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavoratti, Cecilia Bartoli, etc. and many others did. In the 80's , Beverly had retired from the opera stage and took on management for the New York City Opera. But the few televised appearances she made were found in the Wolf Trap performances. These are now on DVD. Her crowning achievement as Queen Elizabeth I in Donizetti's "Roberto Devereaux" is on DVD, as well as her touching performance as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata.And then there's this. Donizetti's "La Fille Du Regiment" (Daugther of the Regiment) was made for the Opera Comique. It was a French opera through and through. The satire, the comedy and beautiful singing is a lot like something Offenbach would have written. It was a French opera for a French audience. Later, revisionists reworked the opera to make it in Italian as "La Figilia Del Regimento" and who knows what gave anyone the idea of making the opera into English musical- "The Daughter Of The Regiment." In English, it sounds more like a Broadway musical or like a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. It's not really as it should be. It's a lesser work of art. But nevertheless, even if it is in English, Beverly Sills delivers a terrific performance. Beverly had already sung operas in English. She sang the opera "The Ballad Of Baby Doe" which was tailor-made for her alone, and in another English version of Handel's Julius Caesar. Beverly's English style is excellent, and is most indicative of her acting abilities. During the recitatives and other sections where Sills is required to act, we can see how she truly loved the theater and how she had acting in her blood. Jokingly, she called herself Lucille Ball if she could sing opera or that she resembled Little Orphan Annie for this role. She was as much an actress as she was a great opera singer. On stage, she could deliver a performance that either made audiences laugh with enjoyment or cry profusely in pathos.In this Donizetti comedy, Beverly plays Marie, a young French orphan. She is taken into custody of a regiment in Napoleon's army. She has been arranged to marry a decadent and villainous Duke, but her heart belongs to one of the soldiers - naturally the idealistic romantic tenor. After much going-ons, a lot of slapstick comedy, beautiful ensembles and arias, Beverly marries her true love. Donizetti's gift for comedy was genius. He was as good with great tragedies- as his Lucia Di Lammermoor has proven. Donizetti's French style is clearly ignored here. It would have been a lot better if this was sung in its original French. But all in all, if you enjoy great "musical" English style, and if you are a fan of Beverly Sills, this DVD is made for you."
G. Golding | Seattle, WA | 10/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The most unfortunate aspect of this video is that it is sung in English and looses some of its charm in the process. Luckily, Beverly Sills has enough charm to more than make up for the English translation. She may not be quite as firm or sweet of voice as she used to be, but she sails through the scales, trills and breathtaking flights of coloratura like it were as easy as falling off a log!
The rest of the cast is more than adequate, with Tonio singing all of his customary high C's.Sulpice and Countess are excellent as well!
All in all, a great performance. You can get Beverly Sills singing this opera in French on the Opera 'oro label. She in even better voice and it's in the original language."
Entertaining, Opera As Comedy (If Only It Could Be Revived)
Joseph Hart | 03/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Donizetti: The Daughter Of The Regiment (La Fille Du Regiment)
Beverly Sills (soprano) as Marie.... William McDonald (tenor) as Tonio... Spiro Malas (Baritone) Sulpice Muriel Costa-Greenspon (mezzo-soprano) La Marquise and Raeder Anderson: The Corporal
Ben Stevenson: Dancing Master Evelyn Freyman: Duchess of Crakentorp David Wylie: The Notary Stanley Wexler: Hortensius
With The Filene Center Orchestra & the Wolf Trap Company Chorus, Charles Wendelken-Wilson, conductor
Stage director: Lotfi Mansouri
Directed for television by Kirk Browning Summer 1974
This is one of three taped performances from the Wolf Trap Center in rural Virginia (a center for the performing arts which still stands today) that presented Beverly Sills, in the 70's period of her career (the last decade of her career) as Violetta in Verdi's Traviata, and Queen Elisabeth I in Donizetti's Roberto Devereaux. Here, she is the feisty, charming Marie, the Daughter of the Regiment. Beverly Sills is in phenomenal voice, the high register is glorious and she maintains all her brilliant bel canto abilities, including pianissimi, which she had always been famous for and her comic acting abilities are outstanding. In the Interview Feature with the producer, she tells us that she approached the role with a "Lucille Ball" element and she generally has fun in this role. But it is not an easy role to sing. It is still bel canto, full of militant coloratura trills and roulades, and a lot of singing time on stage. But besides her beautiful singing, Beverly can make you laugh and she has a Broadway-style theatrical style. If you're a fan of Beverly Sills, who, now nearly 80, is still an active force in the cause of and administration of opera in New York City, and who enjoyed immense success as one of the few first true American opera singers, this one's for you.
Tenor William McDonald is clearly no Pavarotti, but he has the right voice for the role of Tonio, which calls for a high, lyric bel canto tenor voice. At one point, he must hight successive high C's and McDonald can do this without faltering. Although I don't find anything wrong with his singing, he tends to approach the role as one of those bland, weak, "Don Ottavio/puppy dog boyfriend" type lovers. He is not heroic or manly the way Pavarotti was. But this is only a minor quibble. He sings well with Sills. Spiro Malas, the baritone as Sulpice, had already enjoyed great success as Sulpice opposite Joan Sutherland's Marie in recording and stage. He is a true basso-buffo and he pulls out all the stops for his comic bit. Muriel Costa-Greespoon is another hilarious singer-comedienne and as the Marquise she is a riot. Production values are'nt great for this performance. The set looks like it was painted by children and rather than providing a naturalistic ambiance, looks more like we are watching a Disney cartoon. Also, the costumes are far too colorful and kitschy and further makes it look like the singers are singing a Disney musical. Spiro Malas' Sulpice, in particular, looks like a friendly Disney sea captain. But even this doesn't detract from the overall comedy and hilarity of this performance. Because it's in English, there is no need for pesky subtitles and none of Donizetti's original melodies have been altered considerably. Too many, Joan Sutherland was the reigning "Daughter of the Regiment", for she was highly publicized in Met performances with Pavarotti, but when you look at this performance, you will understand why Beverly Sills took the role with a lot more than just her career in mind. She LOVED TO ENTERTAIN PEOPLE, she loved to sing opera, she had a fun time with this role and she makes one feel differently about opera. None of the misconceptions about it are true here - this is not boring or stuffy, this is making fun of boring and stuffy opera itself with an amusing tale about a tomboy girl and her true love.