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BWW Review: THE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT Marries Tradition and Contemporary Opera

Austin Opera's second show this season, THE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT welcomes Marie (performed by Rachele Gilmore) and 1,500 adopted fathers known as the 21st Regiment. The Long Center's stage is vast, however the regiment is fabulously represented by a chorus of 30 men with sergeant Sulpice at the helm. In the mountains of Tyrolean, Marie's journey to happiness is a mixture of Annie Get Your Gun and My Fair Lady with a French twist. Marie is rough around the edges, understandable for any young woman raised by a regiment of soldiers. However, after she meets the charming Tonio (performed by René Barbera), her "fathers" discover he is a member of the enemy and literally drag him away. Marie's heart is true, as she wants to keep her word to marry a member of the regiment ( we will put aside the fact that they are all her father), despite her young love and affection for Tonio.

After realizing Marie will only marry a member of the regiment, Tonio enlists to prove his worth to her and her many, many fathers. The tug of war between proving their love, explaining their love, and believing they will be together only to get torn apart, heightens the hilarity as well as the depth of Marie's beautiful ballads, in sharing her pain and loyalty. However, right under their noses sits the Marquise of Birkenfeld (performed by Cindy Sadler). She discovers Marie's strange living situation within the regiment and reveals her aristocratic birthright, in addition to her obligation to honor a match set up by Birkenfeld herself. Hilarity ensues when Marie trains for high society, with a fabulous scene between Sulpice, Sadler, and Gilmore, with Sadler coaching young Marie on a ballad to sing for their high ranking guests. With Sulpice's incessant interruptions to sing and March the 21st regiment theme, the tug of war was wildly entertaining and heightened the level of farce present in the second act.

This performance was very entertaining and with the English spoken in-between the French songs, non-opera regulars would find joy and admiration for this troupe of performers. A raucous comedy, married to masterful vocal artistry, served with a side of intrigue and slapstick, results a fantastic evening at the opera. As always, the Austin Opera produces performances audiences yearn for, and THE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT delivers to this expectation.

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From This Author Amy Bradley