Showcase Sommerfest 2014 - page 44

Opera Finale:
Die Fledermaus
july 26
enshrined in Vienna’s cultural establishment that it was
presented at the hallowed Imperial Opera in a production
conducted by no less than Gustav Mahler, hardly a man
one would normally associate with comedy and high jinks.
This joyous, bubbly, totally improbable concoction of
mistaken identities, amorous intrigues, mischief and
mirth raised Viennese operetta to new artistic heights,
and was billed as a “comic opera” rather than as a
mere operetta. Within six years, it had been seen on
Act I —
The curtain rises on the home of a well-to-do
couple, Gabriel von Eisenstein and his attractive young
wife Rosalinde. However, the first voice we hear is from
the unseen Alfred, a tenor and a professional singing
teacher who is also a former lover of Rosalinde
now hopeful of having another go at it.
To the side, we see the maid Adele
reading a letter inviting her to a party
tonight at the home of the Russian
Prince Orlofsky. Adele would love to
go but knows Rosalinde will almost
certainly refuse her permission. Alfred
enters, intent on pursuing his amorous
designs. Rosalinde, not exactly averse to
his intentions but nervous about the imminent
return of her husband, agrees to see him later, if only
to get rid of him as quickly as possible.
Eisenstein enters with his lawyer, Dr. Blind, who
has botched Eisenstein’s court case, resulting in a
sentence of eight nights in jail. Now Dr. Falke, a long-
time friend of Eisenstein, enters. They rehash old times,
including the incident at a ball three years ago when
Falke was dressed as a bat (hence the operetta’s
title) and Eisenstein made a fool of him. Falke paints
a rosy picture of the delights awaiting them tonight at
Orlofsky’s and suggests that Eisenstein postpone his
jail sentence by a few hours. Everyone will be in masks
anyway, so who’s to know? Even Rosalinde will be
kept in the dark. A bit later, when Eisenstein asks her
to lay out his best suit for tonight, she questions why
he should need good clothes to go to jail. He mumbles
some lame excuse. (In one recent production, he replied
that lots of people in suits go to jail these days—a line
that brought the house down.) Also, because Rosalinde
wants to be alone to receive Alfred, she changes her
mind about keeping Adele in the house tonight. With
hollow protests of sorrow all around, Rosalinde,
Eisenstein and Adele sing the trio “So I
Alone Must Stay.”
All exit except Rosalinde. Enter Alfred,
who makes himself quite at home.
He urges her to have a drink with
him in “Drink, Darling, Drink to Me.”
Things are going well until Frank, the
prison warden, shows up. He too has
plans to attend the ball, and he wants to get
his charge (Eisenstein) safely locked up before going.
Since Frank doesn’t know what Eisenstein looks like, he
assumes Alfred is his man, and to protect Rosalinde’s
reputation, Alfred has no choice but to be escorted off
to the jailhouse in place of Eisenstein.
Act II —
We’re at the grand residence of the dissolute,
filthy rich Prince Orlofsky (typically a mezzo role), and
everyone is having a grand time—except Orlofsky, who is
sated with all his wealth and good fortune. Falke informs
him that the little “dramatic jest” he plans to execute
tonight, “The Bat’s Revenge,” should lift his spirits. In
“From Time to Time I Entertain,” Orlofsky announces to
his guests that his hedonistic philosophy forbids anyone
from failing to enjoy himself at an Orlofsky party. Adele,
Frank, Falke, Eisenstein and Rosalinde are all there,
mostly unaware of each other’s presence. Masquerading
as a French Marquis, Eisenstein is shocked to see what
more than 170 separate stages in Germany alone. To
date, it has been heard in not only in English, as in this
performance, but also Polish, Danish, Croatian, Swedish,
Hungarian, Latvian, Finnish, Bulgarian, Spanish,
Romanian—and, of course, Italian and French.
The plot has been criticized for being laden with
improbabilities and chance occurrences, but no matter—
the music is so full of irresistible tunes, sprightly
orchestration, rhythmic verve and the irrepressible
charm of Old Vienna that such criticism evaporates.
1...,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43 45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52
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