Charming Cast in Donizetti’s Effervescent Daughter of the Regiment

Ashlyn Rust as Marie and Gennard Lombardozzi as Tonio - Photo by Gwen Turner JuarezHouston, TX – In Daughter of the Regiment, presented this week by Opera in the Heights, composer Gaetano Donizetti uses effervescent music to elevate Jean Francois Bayard’s and Vernoy St. Georges’ easy-going love story.  The opera tells the story of Marie (Erica Miller/Ashlyn Rust), a brash young woman raised by a French regiment.  The conflicts presented that may keep her and her love, Tonio (Gennard Lombardozzi), apart are fleeting and there is never any doubt that the two will have a happy ending.  Instead, it is Donizetti’s score and the charming cast that keeps the audience entertained.  Rather than being emphatic and militaristic, the regiment’s music is upbeat and lively.  The principle roles have show-stopping arias and a charming trio in the second act.

Opera in the Heights has assembled a strong cast for this production.  Most impressive was bass-baritone Stefano de Peppo in the role of Sulpice, sergeant of the regiment that raised Marie.  His comedic timing was impeccable, yet balanced nicely against his fatherly affection for his adopted daughter.  Although Sulpice has no arias, de Peppo stole the show in small moments every time he was onstage.  In the title role of Marie, Erica Miller’s coloratura was given multiple chances to shine.  Miller sang her demanding arias with impressive technique and style, especially given the fact that her Marie was very physical, constantly moving around the stage.  Lombardozzi’s Tonio was charming and the tenor’s acting was very effective.  Stefano de Peppo as Sgt. Sulpice and Nancy Markeloff as the Marquise de BerkenfieldHis act one aria contained some of his best moments vocally, as the higher notes allowed his tone to ring more vibrantly than it did in his lower register.  The male ensemble also performed ably as Marie’s regiment, the members of which consider themselves, collectively, to be Marie’s father.  In addition to their strong singing, the protective relationship they had with Marie was believable and very sweet.  All in all, the production was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an evening.

The remaining performances are September 29, 30, October 1, and 2. For more information please visit: www.operaintheheights.org

Photos by Gwen Turner Juarez