Opera re­dux

A roundup of re­views of this sea­son’s Santa Fe Opera pro­duc­tions

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - James M. Keller I The New Mex­i­can

Force-fed fun: La fille du rég­i­ment

Santa Fe Opera’s 59th sea­son opened with the com­pany’s first-ever pro­duc­tion of Donizetti’s La fille du rég­i­ment (The Daugh­ter of the Reg­i­ment), and the over­rid­ing theme of the evening was how ar­dently di­rec­tor Ned Canty wants ev­ery­one to know that it is a com­edy. The plot stops just a step short of The Pi­rates of Pen­zance: An in­fant adopted by a jolly French reg­i­ment is raised to wom­an­hood, falls in love with a Ty­rolean moun­tain lad, and can only re­al­ize her heart’s de­sire if she, abet­ted by her boyfriend and the reg­i­ment, can over­come the high­fa­lutin de­mands of the no­ble­woman who is re­vealed as her birth mother.

Over­all, the tale is pre­pos­ter­ous enough and the tunes suf­fi­ciently sparkling to leave no doubt that we are sup­posed to smile through it all, but Canty seems to be­lieve that view­ers will miss the point if he doesn’t fill ev­ery mo­ment with shtick. It is rare for any­one to sing or say any­thing with­out shar­ing the mo­ment with some­one else’s an­tics. The stag­ing in­volves a re­lent­less suc­ces­sion of peo­ple pranc­ing about wav­ing flags, hoist­ing guns or glasses, and step­ping on one another’s toes.

The ex­haust­ing re­sult dis­tracts from the meat of the mat­ter, which is of course the singing. The rea­son to at­tend this one is tenor Alek Shrader, as the Ty­rolean suitor To­nio. He is the only singer in the cast whose voice can be de­scribed as truly sonorous; there is no over­look­ing that his is a se­ri­ous in­stru­ment. The part of To­nio’s aria “Ah! mes amis” in which he pops out nine high C’s in short or­der has be­come Shrader’s call­ing card, and he did just man­age them on open­ing night, even with ring­ing, sus­tained se­cu­rity in the ninth. What re­ally set Shrader apart in this cast was that his voice is ca­pa­ble of ex­pres­sive color. It was here that this pro­duc­tion found its real hu­man­ity.

The rest of the cast was ad­e­quate if not in­spir­ing. So­prano Anna Christy, as the cen­tral char­ac­ter of Marie, was a pleas­antly chirpy soubrette, but the com­par­i­son with Shrader’s vo­cal ex­pres­siv­ity did not fall in her fa­vor. She nonethe­less pro­vided en­joy­able lis­ten­ing, if one tired of how heavy-handed of Amer­i­can Mid­west ver­nac­u­lar in­truded on her spo­ken sec­tions (which are in English). Kevin Bur­dette, as Sulpice, the reg­i­ment’s sergeant, brought a char­ac­ter singer’s light basso to the part. Mezzo-so­prano Phyl­lis Pan­cella was solid as the Mar­quise of Berken­feld, and vet­eran house mez­zoso­prano Ju­dith Christin lent haughty au­thor­ity to the brief, non-singing role of the Duchess of Krak­en­thorp. Sper­anza Scap­pucci con­ducted se­curely from the pit.

Clut­tered and hy­per­ac­tive as this “more-is-more” pro­duc­tion is, it is likely to amuse view­ers who en­joy a sit­com sen­si­bil­ity.

Ad­di­tional per­for­mances of “La fille du rég­i­ment” take place at 8 p.m. on Aug. 8, 12, 20, 26, and 29.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.