From the playbill for The Daughter of the Regiment
by Kelley Rourke, WNO Dramaturg
Much of the humor and suspense of Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment concerns the title character’s lack of “feminine” influence. Can a young girl brought up on the battlefield ever take her place in polite society?
For some legendary women warriors, the call to military service crowded out any other desire. Joan of Arc took a vow of chastity as a teenager and successfully petitioned against an arranged marriage. When she was captured and tried, the charges against her ranged from heresy to dressing like a man. Joan is perhaps the most notorious—but far from the only—cross-dressing patriot. In our country, Deborah Sampson served for three years in the Revolutionary War under the name “Robert Shirtliffe,” and once cut a musket ball out of her own thigh to avoid having her deceit discovered by a doctor.