MISTAKEN IDENTITIES. CLASSIC COMEDY.
Not a single laugh gets lost in translation when Marie embarks on a journey of love, family, and patriotism.
Act I: The Tyrolean Mountains
At the outskirts of a village in the Tyrolean Mountains, the Marquise de Birkenfeld and her butler Hortensius have been forced to delay their journey since a skirmish has erupted. While they sit terrified, a chorus of Tyrolese peasants sings valiantly and the women and children pray. As news arrives that the French troops have retreated, the Marquise comments on the rude manners of the French (“How dreadful are the times of war”). Sulpice, sergeant of the 21st Regiment, arrives to assure the villagers that his troops will restore peace to the area. He is joined by Marie, the canteen girl and mascot of the Regiment, which adopted her as a young orphaned girl. She shows her bravada, details her great patriotism, her joy in living a soldier’s life, and her passion for the sound of the drum (“The thunder of the battle was my cradle”). Sulpice then questions her about a young man that has been seen with her recently. He is Tonio, a local Tyrolean who saved her from nearly falling off a cliff. Sulpice warns her not to develop feelings for Tonio and is quick to remind her of the Regiment’s decree that only a soldier can have her hand in marriage. Amid a commotion, the 21st Regiment arrives with a prisoner – Tonio – who explains that he was not spying but rather looking for Marie. She pleads for his release, and he is ordered to follow the soldiers. After, the chorus sings a celebratory drinking song. Tonio escapes the Regiment, returning to declare his love for Marie, and she does likewise (“So, then, you love me”). Sulpice surprises the love-struck couple and Marie admits to her beau that she can only marry a solider of the company.
The Marquise enters and asks that Sulpice and the Regiment escort her safely to her castle. Upon hearing her name, Sulpice is reminded of a letter that accompanied the young Marie when he found her on the battlefield. After some questioning, the Marquise admits that she indeed knew the girl’s father, explaining that Marie was the daughter of her sister, but she had been lost when placed in the Marquise’s care some years prior. The Marquise conspires to bring Marie back to her castle and oversee her education – teaching her the manners and ways of the aristocracy – since she disapproves of the soldiers as suitable companions for her new-found niece. In the meantime, Tonio has enlisted with the Regiment in order to marry Marie. He is upbeat and optimistic about his new life (“Yes, it is true”), but his happiness is short lived when Marie arrives with the news that she must leave both him and the Regiment.
Act II: The Birkenfeld Castle
At the Marquise’s chateau, Marie is growing bored of the dancing and etiquette lessons, but she is comforted by Sulpice who is there recovering from an injury. Although he is meant to be helping the Marquise with her plans, he encourages Marie’s small acts of rebelliousness, much to the aggravation of the Marquise (“The grove lay still and cool”). After a feisty exchange and when Marie is finally left alone, she focuses on the meaninglessness of money and societal position. Having had her fill of the Marquise’s harassment, Marie is overjoyed when the Regiment visits the castle. Tonio, who has been promoted for his acts of valor, asks the Marquise for Marie’s hand in marriage. She tells him that Marie is engaged to another man and dismisses him. Left alone with Sulpice, the Marquise finally admits the truth – Marie is her own illegitimate daughter whom she abandoned as an infant for fear of social disgrace.
While the wedding party assembles, Marie is shocked to learn the truth about the Marquise being her mother from Sulpice. Not wanting to go against her mother’s wishes, she consents to go through with the arranged marriage. However, just as she is to sign the marriage contract, the 21st Regiment, led by Tonio, storms in to rescue Marie. The wedding guests are shocked to learn that she was once the company’s canteen girl, but she explains to them her circumstance and the debt that she owes the soldiers. So moved by her daughter’s goodness, the Marquise consents to her marriage of Tonio and the entire group joins together in a final hymn of praise to France (“A toast to the future”).
Synopsis by Christina Kucan, PR/Communications Specialist, and Hannah Guinn, Director of Fort Worth Opera Studio/Education