La Fille du Régiment ("The Daughter of the Regiment") is an opéra comique by Gaetano Donizetti.
Marie (coloratura soprano) is a hearty and headstrong vivandière, a woman attached to an army battalion who organized the camp and kitchens. Found abandoned as a baby by Sergeant Sulpice (bass), she has been raised by the entire 21st Regiment of the Grand Army of Napoleon and calls every one of them "father". She is never more at home than with the sound of cannon fire overhead.
While campaigning in the the Tyrolean mountains, Marie falls in love with Tonio (tenor), a local lad, who asks the regiment for her hand in marriage. They agree on the condition that Tonio enlist in the French army and join them. Meanwhile, the Marquise of Birkenfeld (contralto), caught in the crossfire, comes across the regiment. It is discovered that Marie is the long-lost child of her deceased sister. The Marquise is determined to bring Marie back to her castle and cure her of her rough ways. The regiment sadly agrees, and Marie is dragged, pleading, away.
In Act II, Marie, scrubbed up and miserable, has been promised in marriage to the Duke of Krakenthorp. The Marquise is desperately trying to refine her manners with a music lesson. Sergeant Sulpice, recovering from an injury, has been living in the castle as well and sneaks in lines of patriotic music to restore her crushed spirit. The 21st Regiment arrives, but the Marquise still refuses to allow Tonio to marry Marie. She confesses that Marie is really her own daughter out of wedlock, whom she had abandoned herself fearing social disgrace.
Marie's marriage to the Duke almost goes forward despite the misery of all involved, but the Marquise finally has a change of heart and frees her to marry Tonio.
This Work Provides Examples of:
- Beta Couple: The Marquise and Sergeant Sulpice.
- The Cameo: As a non-singing, six-line role, the cantankerous Duchess of Crakenthorp is often played by non-operatic celebrities, including actresses such as Dawn French, Bea Arthur, Hermione Gingold, and Kathleen Turner. In 2016, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a lifelong opera fan, played the Duchess on opening night of the Washington National Opera's production.
- Death Seeker: It is implied Tonio was this in the time between act I and act II, only, instead of getting himself killed, he kept getting field promotions for his bravery.
- Engagement Challenge: Tonio must join the regiment before he can marry Marie.
- Has Two Mommies: Marie has dozens of fathers.
- HeelFace Turn: At the end of the opera, the Marquise owns up to being the mother of Marie and prevents her from undergoing the Arranged Marriage to the Duchess' son.
- Heroic Bastard: Marie is not the Marquise's niece, but the Marquise's own daughter, who she had to abandon to avoid social disgrace.
- Mood Whiplash: The first act goes from comical to tragic as a broken-hearted Marie is dragged away from the only family she's ever known by the Marquise's servant.
- No Social Skills: Marie is a bit rough around the edges, having been raised on the battlefield.
- Orphan's Plot Trinket: The letter found with baby Marie, used later to confirm her paternity.
- Parental Abandonment: The Marquise abandons Marie to avoid social disgrace.
- Suddenly Suitable Suitor: Tonio at the end of Act I. For all of 5 minutes.
- Tomboy: There are generally two variations of this, depending on the production:
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Some versions have soldiers already living in the castle, disguised as maids, to keep an eye on Marie.