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Friday, Jan. 10, 2014

Madison Opera’s Daughter of the Regiment

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Despite the opposition of critics who called its 1840 premier “a barely averted disaster,” Gaetano Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment went on to become a resounding success. Madison Opera will mount the popular lighthearted romantic work Feb. 7 and 9 at the Capitol Theatre in Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts.

Directed by noted choreographer, fight and stage director David Lefkowich, Daughter of Regiment tells the tale of Marie (coloratura soprano Caitlin Cisler), found on the battlefield as an infant and raised as the daughter of the entire 21st Regiment. She grows happy and healthy under the watchful eye of Sergeant Sulpice (bass Nathan Stark.)

Marie comes to love the noble soldier Tonio (tenor Javier Abreu), but is taken away by her suddenly appearing aunt, The Marquise de Berkenfield  (contralto Allisanne Apple) to a life of wealth and leisure. She has everything she could possible want, except for her beloved Tonio.

This being a comedy, you can guess what happens from there.

Maestro John DeMain conducts members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra in Donizetti’s rousing, brightly colored score. Highlights of the opera include the famous aria "Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête!" (also referred to as "Pour mon âme"), which has been called the Mount Everest for operatic tenors.

The aria, which occurs early in the opera, contains nine high C notes. Luciano Pavarotti’s 1972 performance in the role of Tonio beside Joan Sutherland at the New York’s Metropolitan Opera, which reportedly left audiences gasping, is said to have sealed the late tenor’s fate and secured his stardom.

Judge for yourself at www.youtube.com/watch?v=i11uJrQyaUw. Then attend Madison Opera’s production and decide whether Javier Abreu is up to the challenge.

For more information, visit www.madisonopera.org.