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Music Pages

Donizetti’s La Fille du régiment at Covent Garden

11 March 2014, London, UK

Patrizia Ciofi as Marie
Patrizia Ciofi as Marie(Photo: Catherine Ashmore)

Review by Francis Muzzu

Patrizia Ciofi has inherited the role of Marie at Covent Garden from Natalie Dessay and I must admit I prefer the relative newcomer (she sang it here in 2012).  Her voice is up to the considerable vocal demands and her interpretation just as funny but less knowing.  Her tone spreads slightly at the top but to be fair she has literally been a trooper and sung despite an infection. Her acting is exceptional – not many singers would dare to mime for two minutes whilst peeling potatoes and still get the house to laugh.

Juan Diego Flórez sings his umpteenth Tonio – not a complaint as he’s on stunning top form. (Debutant Frédéric Antoun takes over – one to watch.) Pietro Spagnoli is a stylish Sulpice and Ewa Podleś is great fun as the Marquise, putting many a baritone to shame: is it too much to ask that the house casts her in something serious and doesn't treat her like a pantomime dame.

Talking of dames, you get Kiri Te Kanawa as the Duchesse, with the bonus of an aria from Puccini’s Edgar revealing some sweetly floated top notes.  Yves Abel conducts with verve and charm and Christian Räth revives Laurent Pelly’s production with a fresh touch.

La Fille du regiment runs at Covent Garden until 18 March.

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