The SF Opera production of La Fille du Regiment definitively put to rest the notion that opera is not the proper format for comedy: who needs agonizing arias when you can get a wild, fun party. We do not recall have laughed that much in an opera house, ever.

Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti wrote during a stay in Paris, commissioned in 1840 by the Opéra-Comique. What's more, It took a French village to raise a French opera: a team led by Laurent Pelly for the direction and Chantal Thomas (not this one, sigh) for the set design collaborated to deliver the most effective mise-en-scène. The set is refreshingly witty: a map with a hint of topography to represent the Tyrolean mountains for the first act in the military canteen, and a slide of hardwood floor edged at a slight angle for the castle interiors. Mostly, it's a non-obtrusive surface for the witty direction to take flight.