“The Daughter of the Regiment” – Arizona Opera

This review aired on KBAQ April 20, 2015


Arizona Opera, Symphony Hall
Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Opera just concluded its impressive 2014/15 season with a comically delightful and beautifully sung “The Daughter of the Regiment.”  Arizona Opera is now a premiere regional opera company.  It lacks the operatic superstars that the San Francisco Opera, the Chicago Lyric Opera, or New York’s Metropolitan Opera regularly present, but this season’s productions were consistently well sung and well staged.

The season of diversity started with the first Mariachi opera, “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna,” which I reviewed positively when it played in October.  That fascinatingly original opera was followed by a nicely sung but conventional production of Verdi’s “Rigoletto.”  Next was Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” and Mozart’s delightful “The Magic Flute” but I missed both productions because the opera openings conflicted with theater premieres.  Based on this season’s first two operas, Arizona Opera presents impressive productions that rival the best of this country’s regional opera companies.

But the company’s status rose even higher with the brilliantly sung production of Donizetti’s comedic gem, “The Daughter of the Regiment” that ended the local season at Symphony Hall.  Years ago, I saw this opera in San Francisco with the great Joan Sutherland who sang Marie with her superb vocal brilliance but the fabled bel canto soprano missed most of Donizetti’s bewitching comic revelry.  But the local production featured the radiant young soprano Susannah Biller who brought Sutherland’s sumptuous vocalism but Biller added hysterical comic shenanigans to the part.  Biller could soon become the Marie to beat at major opera companies throughout the world.

It wasn’t just Biller who soared.  David Portillo was a romantic Tonio with a lyrically pleasing voice and the other leads sounded glorious as did the remarkable chorus.  I haven’t laughed so much at an opera in years.  It was stage director John de los Santos, in his Arizona Opera debut, that kept the opera’s pace brisk and crafted the richly amusing comic machinations.  Arizona Opera’s “The Daughter of the Regiment” was a five star delight and the best local operatic production I’ve seen in years.

“The Daughter of the Regiment” Grade: A

Phoenix is lucky to have today’s Arizona Opera which, during my 35 years of living here, has grown from my first production, an embarrassing “Madama Butterfly,” to this season’s triumphant “The Daughter of the Regiment.”

Next season, Arizona Opera stages the first major American production of “Arizona Lady” and “Florencia en el Amazonas” along with Bizet’s “Carmen,” Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” and Verdi’s “Falstaff.”  For tickets to the 2015/16 season, call the Arizona Opera box office at 602-266-7464 or order tickets online at www.azopera.org.

One Response to ““The Daughter of the Regiment” – Arizona Opera”

  1. Frances Brantley said:

    Apr 21, 15 at 10:45

    I’ve heard David Portillo, and agree that he is an exceptionally skilled and talented tenor. Congratulations to Arizona Opera for presenting such a successful,entertaining production!