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Gaetano Donizetti's 'The Daughter of the Regiment'

Juan Diego Florez and Natalie Dessay play the troubled but ultimately blissful lovers, Tonio and Marie, in <em>La fille du regiment</em> from the Vienna State Opera.
Juan Diego Florez and Natalie Dessay play the troubled but ultimately blissful lovers, Tonio and Marie, in La fille du regiment from the Vienna State Opera.

Creative storytellers — from novelists, to film directors, to opera composers — often seem to get crammed into cubbyholes. Rightly or wrongly, they're linked with particular specialties, or placed into handy categories, and it does seem far easier to rattle off lists of specialists than to cite artists who are best known for creative variety.

Director Martin Scorsese has made many different kinds of films, including period drama (The Age of Innocence), documentary (The Last Waltz) and epic biography (The Aviator). But he's generally associated with mob movies, such as Mean Streets, Goodfellas and The Departed. The same goes for Francis Ford Coppola, thanks to the Godfather trilogy.

Writer Stephen King is nearly always noted for his horror novels, though his work ranges over a wide literary territory. Some novelists (Patricia Cornwell, John Sandford, Michael Connelly) have made their names with detective thrillers, while others (Greg Bear, Harlan Ellison, Orson Scott Card) are regarded as science fiction specialists. Sometimes these designations are accurate, but often they don't reflect the true range of an artist's work.

Opera composers get the same treatment. Giacomo Puccini is famous for violent, verismo potboilers, despite his talent for touching romance (La Boheme) and biting satire (Gianni Schicchi). Richard Wagner is known for complex, symbolic dramas based on ancient myths and legends — the massive Ring cycle comes immediately to mind — though he also wrote more lighthearted fare. Even the great Giuseppe Verdi is most often associated with high drama and deadly intrigue, even though his works range from historical epics to family dramas, and even include a comedy or two.

In contrast, Gaetano Donizetti was a composer who seemed to defy categorization. He wrote more than five dozen operas, and his works are nearly impossible to cubbyhole. He became a master of dark, historical dramas, with works like Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda, and his Lucia di Lammermoor is among the finest examples of romantic tragedy.

Yet Donizetti also had a true genius for comedy, displayed in the brilliant and popular Don Pasquale and the good-natured charmer The Elixir of Love. And then there's the opera featured here, La fille du regimentThe Daughter of the Regiment. It's a rollicking combination of esprit de corps, slapstick antics and innocent romance — not to mention intoxicating music highlighted by spectacular vocal writing.

World of Opera host Lisa Simeone brings us a production of the opera from Vienna, featuring some of the finest voices you'll hear anywhere — both singing and speaking! Soprano Natalie Dessay sings the title character opposite the brilliant tenor Juan Diego Florez, and renowned soprano Montserrat Caballe makes an appearance in the speaking role of the Duchess of Crackentorp — though she does squeeze in a song while she's at it.

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