La fille du régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) is an opéra comique in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Text from the French of Georges Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard.
It was first performed on February 11, 1840, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris.
This opera is famous for the aria "Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête!", which has been called the "Mount Everest" for tenors, as it features 9 high Cs and comes comparatively early in the opera, giving the singer less time to warm up his voice. Many lesser tenors do not quite hit the notes (hitting B natural instead), especially as they come in rapid-fire succession and require considerable vocal dexterity.
The opera is set near Bologna at the castle of the marchioness. (In the original the soldiers are Austrians, but on the stage they have been portrayed as Frenchmen.)
Marie, having been found on the battlefield as a baby by the soldiers of the second regiment, is adopted by them and follows her "fathers" as vivandière. Her life is saved by the young Swiss Tonio. She loves him, and as she has sworn only to belong to a member of the regiment, he enlists. She is separated from her lover, however, as she is recognised as her niece by the marchioness from letters which the honest sergeant Sulpice has saved. Marie bids farewell to her beloved regiment and to her lover and follows her relative.
The second act takes place at the castle of the marchioness. Marie's only pleasure, notwithstanding her riches, is conversing with old Sulpice, who has become an invalid and is living at the castle. She is to marry the son of the duchess of Craquitorpi and is almost reconciled to her fate when she hears martial music. Her old regiment arrives and with it Tonio as an officer. She throws all her finery into a heap, joyfully hails the troops and rushes into Tonio's arms. The duchess indignantly retires, and when the marchioness, who loves Marie as a daughter, gives her consent, amid universal rejoicing she is married to Tonio.
Chorus and ensemble. Duet between Sulpice and Marie: "Ha, it is she, the thunder, the joy"; Marie's song: "On the field of honour." Ensemble.) Tonio is to be shot as a spy, but is rescued by Marie, who declares that he has saved her life. (Marie's song of the regiment: "Does the world not know, does the world not say"; Love duet: "You love me"; Finale, chorus of soldiers; Tonio's song of the recruit: "I join your flag"; Marie's farewell: "Farewell, dear brothers."
Scene: "The young day arises"; Marie's aria of joy at the appearance of her old regiment: "Hail to thee, my country"; Terzett between her, Sulpice and Tonio: "At last we are united.") Finale: Marie tells the story of her life, the marchioness gives her consent and unites her with Tonio. (Final chorus: "Hail to thee, O my country."