An Energetic and Intimate Daughter of the Regiment

St. Louis, MO – Tucked away in the beautifully quaint Webster University campus is an opera company with great poise and international prowess – Opera Theatre of St. Louis. While some seasoned opera aficionados may miss the grand opera experience found at the Met or the Lyric Opera of Chicago (300 miles away), Opera Theatre of St. Louis provides the perfect spot for the summer opera experience.  Pack your picnic basket for dinner before the show or choose from one of many delicious baskets sold on the gardens outside of the intimate Virginia Jackson Browning Theatre. Then sit back and enjoy world-class opera in one of the most personal opera settings in the US.

The Opera Theatre of St. Louis Festival Season runs until June 26th, 2011 and includes Don Giovanni (Review »), The Daughter of the Regiment, Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande, and John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer.

The Daughter of the Regiment – Review

It’s hard not to fall in love with Donizetti’s energetic Daughter of the Regiment and when brilliantly executed, as it was by director and choreographer Seán Curran, it can prove to be an exciting evening of opera.

The charm found in this romantic comedy is in its simplicity. The Twenty-first Grenadier Regiment of the French Army adopted Marie as a baby and act as surrogate father figures. Marie, opera’s favorite tomboy, falls in love with Tonio but is rushed off to the aristocratic life when the Marquise of Berkenfeld reveals that Marie is her niece.  The second act is filled with hilarity, as it becomes apparent that Marie is not comfortable as a high-class lady and is not meant to marry into the aristocracy, but rather marry her true love Tonio.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis has assembled a stellar cast for an opera that requires vocal fireworks and a theater that demands engaged actors.  René Barbera as Tonio is the standout voice in this production and is bound for a great career. Barbera’s strong yet flexible tenor voice sounds at home in Donizetti music. Even with the opera being performed in English his Ah! My good friends (Ah! mes amis) was impeccable. Dale Travis, as Sulpice, was an absolutely delightful actor with a fine bass-baritone voice. While the English translation, at times, didn’t suit the vocal lines of Marie, it did not stop the high-spirited Ashley Emerson from creating a fun-loving character.

The St. Louis Symphony members played wonderfully under the extremely capable baton of John McDaniel. Even though the English translation is not a perfect fit for this French opera, McDaniel works to bend the score to fit the needs of the libretto.

This highly nuanced yet simple production is an ideal opera for the intimate atmosphere Opera Theatre of St. Louis has created. The remaining performances for Daughter of the Regiment are on June 18th and 22nd at 1pm, and the 26th at 7pm. Ticket and Company Information »

Photo by Ken Howard (used with permission)