We started with this early DVD so that we could appreciate Sutherland’s wonderful voice in this jolly story of Marie the baby abandoned on the battlefield who was adopted by the victorious French regiment. She grew up to manage the regiment’s canteen and fell in love with Tonio, a handsome young Swiss who joins the regiment in order to be with her. Sulpice the Captain who has acted as her father discovers that a letter left with the baby identified her as the Niece of the Marquis of Berkenfield who just happened to be passing by and asked the regiment to give her safe passage to her castle. Sulpice is bound to tell the Marquis of her niece whom she swiftly claims and takes to her castle to teach her some approved manners and to arrange a wealthy marriage for her.
Bound to do her duty and obey the Marquis, Marie gives up hope of marrying Tonio and reluctantly agrees to marry the rich and titled suitor chosen for her. Sadly she has not learnt to behave as a shy and delicate maiden and her rough regimental manners soon shock the mother of her intended husband. Just in the nick of time the regiment marches through with Tonio and demands that Marie be allowed to marry him. The Marquis agrees and confesses that Marie is really her daughter and not her niece and she should marry for true love.
This Comic Opera was first performed in Paris in 1840, then in Milan, New Orleans, New York and London. By 1847 it fell out of favour until revived by the Royal Opera London in 1966 for Joan Sutherland.