Hong Kong's renowned opera director Professor Lo King-man will bring us his latest production Donizetti's "La Fille du Regiment" (The Daughter of the Regiment) in January. The opera will offer musical enjoyment and a fun-filled plot.
The first and most successful French opera by Gaetano Donizetti, created for the Opéra Comique of Paris, "La Fille du Regiment" is entering its 170th year of undiminished popularity.
The story is about abandoned baby Marie who is brought up by the soldiers of the French Army's 21st Regiment. They adopt her as their "daughter". A young forester, Tonio, saves Marie from falling off a precipice. Hoping to marry Marie, Tonio learns that her future husband must be a member of the regiment, which causes him promptly to enlist. The Marchioness of Berkenfield who claims to be Marie's aunt insists that Marie marry a duke she does not know. During the reception to announce Marie's engagement to the duke, the Marchioness has a change of heart and confesses to the startled company that Marie is in fact her own illegitimate daughter. The guests are further scandalised to learn that Marie is the regiment's canteen girl. The Marchioness finally consents to Marie's marriage to Tonio. Amid general rejoicing, the opera ends with a patriotic chorus, "Salut a la France".
Director Lo King-man has devised an ingenious scenic narrative (in the overture) which informs the audience how the baby Marie is abandoned near the army camp; how she is brought up by an entire regiment sharing the responsibility as her fathers; and how they elect her to be their vivandière, overseer of supplies, cook and canteen girl. It is created solely for this production and entirely made in Hong Kong.
In addition, the scene in Act II, in which Marie is trained to be an elegant lady, is one of the highlights. Renowned local pianist Nancy Loo's performance as the crazy music teacher will embody the opera's comic nature.
"La Fille du Regiment" presents a great challenge to the singers. The aria "Pour mon ame" requires the leading tenor to hit nine successive high-Cs. Pavarotti was crowned the "King of High-Cs" by showing his exquisite artistry in this aria. In the leading role of Marie, the coloratura soprano has to sing many more sustained high notes above the high-C . Some florid passages and cadenzas reach as high as the top E. The cast of the Hong Kong performance is superb with Christina Haldane and Lam Wing-wing as Marie; John Zukerman, Chen Yong and Alex Tam as Tonio; as well as guest artist Nancy Loo as Marie's teacher. Conductor Lio Kuok-man will lead the Hong Kong Virtuosi and Opera Society of Hong Kong.
The two-act comic opera, Donizetti's "La Fille du Régiment" (sung in French with Chinese and English surtitles), will be staged at 8pm on January 29-31, 2010 (Friday to Sunday); and at 3pm on January 30, 2010 (Saturday) at the Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall. Tickets priced at $600, $450, $300 and $150 are now available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessions will be granted to senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. (Limited tickets for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients are available on a first-come, first-served basis.) Please refer to programme leaflets for details of the group booking discount.
For programme enquiries, call 2268 7321; for ticketing enquiries and reservations call 2734 9009. Internet bookings are available at www.urbtix.hk . For credit card telephone bookings, call 2111 5999. Visit www.lcsd.gov.hk/cp for more information on the programme.
Ends/Monday, November 30, 2009