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La Fille du Régiment review at Royal Opera House, London – ‘takes a while to warm up’

Miranda Richardson and the company of La Fille du Régiment at Royal Opera House. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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First seen in 2007 and here revived for the fourth time, Laurent Pelly’s amiable production of Donizetti’s light comedy The Daughter of the Regiment is less starrily cast than in its first emanation, when Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez took the leads.

The replacements make an honourable job of it. Sabine Devieilhe may have a voice slightly too small for the house, but her technical skills and stage personality bring her solid success as tomboy Marie, unwillingly swept up into high society.

As lovelorn peasant turned comic-opera soldier Tonio, Mexican tenor Javier Camarena stops the show twice with his famous Act I showpiece containing nine consecutive top Cs, which is duly encored – and quite right too; he’s a winning performer, delivering the role with enough charm to keep you smiling.

Similarly, Pietro Spagnoli’s game Sergeant Sulpice is an able replacement for Alessandro Corbelli, while Enkelejda Shkoza equals any of her predecessors as Marie’s proud but guilty mother, the Marquise.

Miranda Richardson makes a meal of the entirely spoken role of the Duchess of Crakentorp, giving the show a much needed shot in the comic arm in the last act. Donald Maxwell repeats his fussy butler Hortensius.

Overall the production still looks good and undoubtedly keeps the audience entertained, though it takes a while to warm up. Donizetti’s score is undemanding but has many clever moments and is never dull and Evelino Pidò conducts a performance that finds the chorus and orchestra on good form.

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A good cast doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors in this lightweight comedy