LA FILLE DU REGIMENT " La Fille du Regiment " or " The Daughter of the Regiment " is a light opera in two acts, with music by Gaetano Donizetti and text by Bayard and St. Georges. It was produced at the Opera Comique, Paris, Feb. 11, 1840.
Marie, vivandiere of the Twenty-First, "Daughter of the Regiment." Marchioness de Berkenfield, mother of Marie.
Tony, an old sergeant of the Twenty-First.
Duchess of Crackenthorp.
Gillian, a peasant.
Soldiers, peasants, a notary.
The scene of this merry opera is laid in the Tyrol during its occupation by the French in 1815. Marie, when a baby, was picked up by Sergeant Sulpice on the battle-field after an encounter and has been faithfully cared for by the soldiers, though rocked in a cap of steel in lieu of a cradle and lulled to sleep by rolling drums. She has now grown to womanhood and assumed the dignity of vivandiere being claimed as the " adopted daughter " of the gallant Twenty First Regiment. Tony, a Swiss peasant, who has saved Marie from a fall over a precipice, is in love with her and tries to join the regiment to be near her. He is arrested as a spy and sentenced to be hanged but is speedily turned into a hero by the girl's story of her rescue. A member of the regiment, he makes an opportunity to woo its daughter, and finds his reception hearty. The soldiers grow as fond of him as they are of the mischievous, spirited Marie and resolve to assist him in his suit. But just as everything seems most auspicious, the Marchioness of Berkenfield appears inopportunely and claims that she is Marie's aunt, giving as proof a letter taken from the foundling which Sergeant Sulpice has carefully preserved. The Marchioness announces her intention of taking the girl home with her and flouts the idea of Tony as a nephew-in-law. Marie is in despair at the thought of being torn from her dear regiment and her dearer sweetheart and submits to her aunt's arrangements with very bad grace. The regiment is just as reluctant to lose its pretty vivandiere. This time alas, Tony cannot follow her without being a deserter.
The scene shifts to the chateau of the Marchioness where, surrounded by tutors of every description, poor Marie is seen undergoing the process of education.
Between dancing-masters and music-masters, the girl, once untrammeled by conventions, is well-nigh distracted. On one occasion her aunt bids her sing an elegant romanza, which she begins in exaggerated style but before she is half through, to the great disgust of her relative, she forgets herself and swings into the spirited rataplan. Her aunt has suceeded in betrothing her to a nobleman but it is only Tony who occupies her thoughts. When most deeply wrapped in despair, she hears the familiar sound of martial music and finds that the beloved Twenty-First Regiment has arrived, with Tony riding at its head as colonel. He again presses his suit but finds the cruel Marchioness proof, even against epaulettes. An elopement is agreed upon but is detected by the Marchioness, who to gain her point reveals the fact that she is Marie's mother and not her aunt and the girl hesitates to disobey the maternal will.
Finally, when Marie, broken in spirit, is about to consent to sign the marriage contract with the son of a neighboring duchess, her mother is so touched by old military associations and her daughter's grief, that she makes a sacrifice of her own pride and ambition and gives her daughter's hand to the faithful Tony.
The part of Marie was the delight of Sontag, Lind, Albani and Patti and has been a favorite with later cele brated singers. " The Daughter of the Regiment " is one of the most frequently revived of Donizetti's many operas. Its Italian melody and French spirit make an irresistible combination and its military setting further adds to its charms.
Among its stirring and piquant numbers are the over ture; the tyrolienne, " Suppliant to your knees ; " the duet between Marie and Sulpice, " The Rataplan; " the solo, " Salut a la France ; " Marie's song of the Regiment, "All men confess it ; " chorus of soldiers, " We have come our child to free " and Marie's duet with Tony, " No longer can I doubt it."