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The part of Tonio played to Juan Diego Florez's acting strengths, a winning, appealing personality and a certain naivety on stage. Tonio is not on stage as much as Marie, but Florez certainly brought the house down with 'Adieu mes amis', his Act 1 solo with its string of top Cs. But Donizetti does not allow the act to finish here, he follows this bravura showpiece with Marie's pathetic leave taking as she bids farewell to her regimental fathers and goes to live with her new found Aunt.

Juan Diego Florez as Tonio in the Royal Opera House production of Donizetti's 'La Fille du Regiment'. Photo © 2007 Bill Cooper
Juan Diego Florez as Tonio in the Royal Opera House production of Donizetti's 'La Fille du Regiment'. Photo © 2007 Bill Cooper

That Aunt, the Marquise de Berkenfeld, was played by the ever wonderful Felicity Palmer. Palmer's technique always amazes me, that she is able to sing such roles as Klytemnestra and still create a creditable bel canto vocal line. Granted, the Marquise is a sort of baddy and Palmer's familiar but expressive curdled tone was much in evidence, but so was a sense of line and a feel for this period of music. She even accompanied Natalie Dessay on the piano in the lesson aria.

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Copyright © 22 January 2007 Robert Hugill, London UK

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