The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or
Today’s diapsalmata comes to us by way of Seattle Opera’s latest production of Gaetano Donizetti’s La fille du régiment. I saw the dress rehearsal last week and thought it was just great.
It was a bit of a flop when it debuted at La Scala in 1840, possibly because it was a kind of operetta before it had really been named as a form. Berlioz panned it, writing,
What, two major scores for the Opéra, Les martyrs and Le duc d’Albe, two others at the Renaissance, Lucie de Lammermoor and L’ange de Nisida, two at the Opéra-Comique, La fille du régiment and another whose title is still unknown, and yet another for the Théâtre-Italien, will have been written or transcribed in one year by the same composer! Monsieur Donizetti seems to treat us like a conquered country; it is a veritable invasion. One can no longer speak of the opera houses of Paris, but only of the opera houses of Monsieur Donizetti.
The score may well be a bit fluffy for the composer of Les Trojans and the Symphony Fantastique, but perhaps Berlioz resented Donizetti use of français. Other than the poor reception for La fille, Donizetti was (obviously) enormously popular. And with good reason: there are a lot of great tunes, it’s funny, and it’s easy to follow.
The clips above and below are of the same production that has found its way to Seattle. Here with Patrizia Ciofi rather than Sarah Coburn in the Seattle version: