Utah Opera Presents: Donizetti’s ‘The Daughter of the Regiment’


Heather Hopkins

“The Daughter of the Regiment” at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Heather Hopkins | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Heather Hopkins


The Utah Opera cast shone in a heartwarming rendition of Gaetano Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment.” The opera is a story of unconventional familial love and loyalty amid the Napoleonic wars.

A Show for All

From Jan. 14-22, the Utah Opera put on a show for all ages in downtown Salt Lake City’s historic Capitol Theatre.  The origins of the ornate venue center around the late-19th, early 20th-century practice of Vaudevillian entertainment. Vaudeville, a farce with music, serves as an apt cousin to the production “The Daughter of the Regiment” as this is a comedic opera. The Utah Opera tweaked the script to allow for some modern style slapstick satirical comedy to be featured. While comedy was a central component of the show, it left room for the voices of the performers to remain the main characters.

1 Daughter, 20 Fathers

The audience is given time and place context in the opening scene where we encounter a group of Francophone villagers in the Tyrol region in Austria. The villagers watch with great anticipation as a battle with Napoleonic troops break out. The audience is then introduced to the French regiment under the control of Sergeant Sulpice (Matthew Burns), who acts as one of many stand-in father figures for our lead, Marie (Madison Leonard).

As the story unfolds, we realize that Marie, thought to be an orphan of one of the late regiment soldiers, was raised unconventionally within the regiment. Thus, she is considered to be the daughter of the entire regiment. Her many father figures are shown as protective of Marie when she falls for a local young man, Tonio (Jack Swanson). This protectiveness against her suitor pales in comparison to what the regiment then feels when they run into The Marquise of Berkenfield (Elise Quagliata).

Marie with the regiment in Donizetti’s “Daughter of the Regiment” performed by the Utah Opera. (Photo by Heather Hopkins | The Daily Utah Chronicle) (Heather Hopkins)

The regiment recognizes Berkenfield as the name of the woman who was Marie’s mother. The Marquise claims that this was not her but her sister, and insists on taking in the young Marie.

Marie, who has only known battlefield life with the regiment, has trouble adjusting to a life of fine dresses, proper “ladylike” manner and new suitors. The Marquise makes a deal with the Duchess of Crakenthorp (Anne Cullimore Decker) to marry Marie off to the son of the Duchess, and Marie begrudgingly agrees.

Right before the wedding however, the regiment, with Tonio now a member, comes to rescue Marie. She and Tonio are gifted their happily ever after.

Opera: a Cultural Necessity

While the theatre was accommodating to American viewers with the implementation of English subtitles for the French arias, it was almost unnecessary. The operatic company made language barriers dissipate with their soulful performances. Though everyone in attendance was properly dressed for the Utah winter, it is unlikely anyone was left without chills.

Each transition from tenor to soprano melody was more impressive than the last. While each performer was a bright light in the show, Leonard was the north star. Her energetic portrayal of Marie made the painted backdrops believable as the snowcapped Alps. Her angelic voice was a reminder that visits to the opera are not an amusement of the past, but a current cultural necessity.


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