The infant orphan Marie is found by a regiment of French soldiers; they decide to raise her themselves. She grows up to be a spunky, self-assured young woman who adores her “father,” Sergeant Sulplice, and the army life - the only one she has ever known.
The only demand her “fathers” insist on is that when the time comes, she must marry a soldier. Of course, she falls in love with a civilian, Tonio. Later, facts filter in about Marie’s real parents, and her life is utterly changed.
Composed while Gaetano Donizetti was living in Paris, the opera is sung in French instead of Italian. This comedy is full of surprises, laughter, some very athletic bel canto singing, and the superlative melodies of the master of song, Donizetti.