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As usual in his productions of French operetta and opera comique, Pelly collaborated with associate director Agathe Melinand and it was Melinand who was responsible for revising the dialogue and creating sympathetic yet sleek and sophisticated drama out of the text.

The sets were by the French fashion designer Chantal Thomas, again one of Pelly's regular collaborators (with costumes by Pelly himself). There was a simple, basic set consisting of an array of maps of the Tyrol, forming the floor and the back-drop. Onto this were moved the peasants' barricades for the first scene, then the detritous of the army camp -- beds, washing and potatoes -- for the remainder of Act 1. For Act 2, the set sported a wooden outline of the Marquise's house.

A scene from the Royal Opera House production of Donizetti's 'La Fille du Regiment'. Photo © 2007 Bill Cooper
A scene from the Royal Opera House production of Donizetti's 'La Fille du Regiment'. Photo © 2007 Bill Cooper

At various moments, Pelly flew extra bits of scenic excitement onto the set -- we had rows of long-johns on washing lines, postcards of young love and even the French cockerel appeared in the finale. (Pun intended, presumably.) Not overly sophisticated perhaps, but rather appealing and the joke never got too out of hand. Perhaps the biggest joke and the poorest, was for Tonio's final entrance when he and the regiment arrive to rescue Marie from the Marquise's house and the arranged marriage. Here Tonio arrived sitting astride a huge tank.

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Copyright © 22 January 2007 Robert Hugill, London UK

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