Atlanta Opera's The Daughter Of The Regiment Hits Lot Of High Notes

Sunday, February 25, 2018 - by Basil Considine

Atlanta Opera's The Daughter of the Regiment opened on Saturday at the Cobb Energy Centre. This high-octane production – one of three opera openings this weekend within a two-hour drive of Chattanooga (the others are Knoxville Opera’s Turandot and the University of Georgia’s Marriage of Figaro) – is played for laughs and hits lots of high notes.

Lots of high notes is not an exaggeration. Singing the role of Tonio in The Daughter of the Regiment (original French title: La fille du regiment) made the young Luciano Pavarotti a star, with an aria in which the young lad celebrates a reciprocation of love by hitting 9 high Cs. Atlanta Opera’s Tonio is Santiago Ballerini, who has been making quite the name for himself as a singer of classic bel canto tenor roles. Ballerini brings great energy, enthusiasm, and shtick to his portrayal.

Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe sets and pushes much of the campy mood as the Marquise, beginning with her first scene and continuing to the end. The entire production has a stylized feel reminiscent of opera parodies in classic Warner Brothers cartoons; Blythe luxuriates in this, milking what could be throwaway lines for great humor. She also shows a wonderful grasp of the acoustic, with a diction that cuts through the large hall in spoken and sung lines.

The titular daughter of the regiment, Marie, is played by soprano Andriana Chuchman. In this version of the opera, Chuchman’s Marie is very much the lower-class tomboy, with a lot of physical comedy during the spoken dialogue that helps keep the general jovial mood of the evening flowing. Chuchman excels in aria after aria, from the vibrant “Chacun le sait” ("Everyone knows it") to the moving “Il faut partir mes bons compagnons d'armes” (“I must leave my good companions in arms”). Almost every scene when Chuchman appears with Stefano de Peppo’s Sulpice is comedy gold.

The backdrop for the opera includes two splendid visual tableaus in oval: a mountain scene in Act I, and a sea of blue trimmed by double curving staircases in Act II, rendered by scenic designer James Noone. The visual aesthetic is pretty but inconsistent, which leads to an issue more apparent when looking at the costumes by James Schuette: it’s not very clear what era this opera is supposed to be set in. The cut of many of the costumes suggests that we are somewhere in the Regency/Empire period, while the suits, onstage piano, and Act II set are more strongly stamped as the Second Empire period. This lack of clarity is amplified by the rewritten dialogue dropping most of the references to events that might sort out the chronology.

Although the audience did not seem to mind, the supertitles often left large portions of songs untranslated and dropped key connections in the lyrics. (One of the most omissions all but eliminates the wedding party guests’ horror at Marie being a vivandière – a type of camp follower often associated with prostitution – with some generic wording about her being from the regiment.) Given the amount of physical comedy tied to the lyrics, having more accurate – and more present – supertitles would have amplified the effusive humor.

It is always difficult to tell where a stage director’s work ends and a choreographer’s work begins, especially in a well-known opera. Whatever the balance of credit due, stage director E. Loren Meeker and choreographer Meg Gillentine have created an opera with little extraneous movement, where everything has its purpose and the purpose is usually comedic. The group numbers are special highlight, and the Act II trio "Tous les trois reunis" (“All three of us reunited”) is a number to remember just as much for Donizetti’s brilliant music as the popping physical comedy that accompanies it. The end of the opera is a bit abrupt, but at just about two hours total, who’s complaining?

--

The Daughter of the Regiment continues at the Cobb Energy Centre in Atlanta through March 4.

--

Basil Considine, PhD
Performing Arts Editor
Classical Music and Drama Critic
Twin Cities Arts Reader
basilus@gmail.com

Chattanooga Live Music Upcoming Events

Darrell Scott Performs In A Special Barking Legs Anniversary Show

String Theory At The Hunter Opens Season 12 With Virtual Concert


Here are the upcoming Chattanooga Live Music weekend events beginning Thursday. Check the CLM Facebook schedule page for details of each event. Event Schedule 22-Oct Jason Lyles - 1885 ... (click for more)

Legendary singer-songwriter-guitarist Darrell Scott will perform for the first time at Barking Legs on Friday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Barking Legs Garden. The generosity of one of Barking ... (click for more)

String Theory, in partnership with Lee University and the Hunter Museum of American Art, is proud to announce Season 12, beginning with String Theory @ Home, featuring two virtual concerts, one ... (click for more)



Entertainment

Chattanooga Live Music Upcoming Events

Here are the upcoming Chattanooga Live Music weekend events beginning Thursday. Check the CLM Facebook schedule page for details of each event. Event Schedule 22-Oct Jason Lyles - 1885 Ooltewah TN at 6 PM 22-Oct Drew Robbins - Jacob Myer's Restr on the River Dayton TN at 6 PM 23-Oct Jason Lyles at Breaker 17 Album Release - Livestream at 7 PM 23-Oct Hunter South - ... (click for more)

Darrell Scott Performs In A Special Barking Legs Anniversary Show

Legendary singer-songwriter-guitarist Darrell Scott will perform for the first time at Barking Legs on Friday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Barking Legs Garden. The generosity of one of Barking Legs’ staunchest supporters has created the opportunity for this culminating event of the outdoor season. This concert marks Barking Legs’ 27th Anniversary, a longevity that would not have ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Bus Driver, 7-Year-Old Girl Killed In Meigs County School Bus Crash; 7 Other Children Sent To Hospital, Including 1 In Critical Condition; Utility Truck Lost Control And Hit Bus Head-On

The female bus driver and a seven-year-old girl were killed when a Meigs County school bus collided with a utility vehicle on Highway 58 near the Bradley County line late Tuesday afternoon. Seven other children were sent to Children's Hospital in Chattanooga, including one in critical condition. Five were airlifted and two taken by ambulance to the hospital. The Tennessee ... (click for more)

Man, 39, In Critical Condition After Being Shot Multiple Times On Highway 58

A 39-year-old man was in critical condition after being shot multiple times on Tuesday at Highway 58. Police said the incident happened at 4500 Highway 58, which is the location of Wendy's. At approximately 4:54 a.m., a Chattanooga police officer was in the area of 4500 Highway 58 when he heard multiple gunshots coming from nearby. Upon arrival, the CPD officer ... (click for more)

Opinion

We Must Love

I feel it too. It is easy to hate. Maybe we could try harder to love. Hate seeps into our bones, rules our integrity, and convinces us to forsake those we love. Hate is toxic. It spreads to our neighbors; people we once trusted. It spreads to our coworkers and friends; people who once trusted us. We lose sight of what truly matters. That is what we have in common now. Is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Bunch Of Hogwash

There are those who fault Donald Trump for the unkind divisiveness that is “the second plague” roiling the United States right now. But did you notice that when the brilliant Amy Coney Barrett was approved by the Senate to become our newest Supreme Court Justice, the entirety of “those” Democrat Senators voted against her? I tend to believe many who voted ‘no’ would actually support ... (click for more)