LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT | London, Royal Opera House

In its third revival, Laurent Pelly’s magnificent 2007 adaptation of Donizetti’s comic opera sparkles, with scintillating performances from an audacious cast — in prodigious pantaloons and refulgent moustaches.

In the title role of Marie, Sabine Devieilhe compliments stand-out comic acting with cadenzas as bright and brilliant as birdsong. Her choreographed laundry chopping and singing in “Au bruit de la guerre” is an exquisite delight. Javier Camarena plays a cute and cuddly Tonio, who delivers cut-glass shivers as he soars the heights of his range in the aria “Ah, Mes Amis”, infamous for featuring nine consecutive high Cs. Augmenting this power couple is the riotously ribald Enkelejda Shkoza as La Marquise de Berkenfield, constantly berating her beleaguered butler Hortensius (a charming Donald Maxwell).

Conductor Evelino Pido gives a vigorous sense of easy play to the orchestra, and from the first notes of the overture, it is clear he is gloriously unafraid of silence. At times, the co-ordination with the chorus borders on the laissez-faire, but overall delivers poise, humour and passion.

Conveying the bare hope and ebullience at the heart of Donizetti’s exhilarating score, the choreography (Laura Scozzi) is confident and energised, with inventive production design throughout (Chantal Thomas). Coups de théâtre also abound: hilariously flailing maids “cleaning”; an arch duchess (Blackadder‘s very own Miranda Richardson) arguing with the conductor for spoiling her entrance with too expansive an overture; a tank-driven deus ex machina. And, an astounding encore to “Ah, Mes Amis”: with a bashful shrug to the conductor, Camarena delivers another 9 exquisitely placed high Cs, without breaking a sweat. Unforgettable.

Catch La Fille until 20 July 2019.

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