La fille du regiment DVD Review
The acting overall is quite good. Florez, for his part, has some rote gestures that he does again and again (particularly turning away and turning back before starting a phrase). However, he does a good job of acting the part with a sincerity that has been unusual until recently for tenors in particular. That said, there have been exceptions in the past and there are a wide variety of tenors with acting ability currently on the stages. Florez isn't an exquisite actor above the rest, but he's good enough without a doubt. The supporting singers all play their roles well, especially Felicity Palmer (except not so well when she's singing). Because these are character roles they don't require a massive range of emotions but they do require excellent ability to portray that character, and all the supporting singers do bring this to the fore. Natalie Dessay really steals the show in terms of acting ability. Dessay's ability to represent the tomboyish yet flirtatious Marie is superb. It requires an excellent blend of unexepected masculinity and endearing femininity. Her acting doesn't suffer through her singing, nor the other way around. She is the consummate singing actress.
Lastly, the singing. It is important to point out that there is spoken dialogue in La fille du regiment. I recently heard someone describe this opera as, therefore, an operetta. It is unrealistic to put it this way. It is true that by technical, very stringent standards, an opera has no spoken word. However, we call lots of works that do possess spoken word operas. Indeed, works of Britten contain spoken word. Even Carmen contained spoken words before recits were fashioned for all the dialogue. Due to these blurred lines and the level of singing necessary to sing La fille du regiment, it is only fair to call it an opera. In this opera, the supporting singers do an excellent job of not only singing well, but giving their voices colors appropriate to their character, whether the commander of a regiment, a haughty marquises, or a prima donna duchess, they all fit. Natalie Dessay has excellent control of her voice with spot-on coloratura. It does seem that she flags just a bit toward the end of the second act, but she manages to cover it well and hang on. Juan Diego Florez is in his typical ringing vocal style, easily accessing high notes and yielding a thrilling tone to his singing. Sometimes he feels a bit monotonous, but all in all, he's one of the best singers alive currently.
La fille du regiment was an exciting opera to watch, and I'll be excited to see the next DVD performance that happens to come my way!